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Meet the 12 finalists of the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2017

Brussels, 24 January 2017

The finalists of the Horizon 2020-funded EU Prize for Women Innovators 2017 are announced today by the European Commission. The shortlist contains twelve outstanding women entrepreneurs who have brought their breakthrough ideas to the market. For the first time, this year's contest includes three finalists in a new category, the Rising Innovator, to recognise excellence in female entrepreneurs aged 30 years or under. All of the finalists have founded or co-founded a successful company based on their innovative ideas.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "The twelve finalists are all talented innovators with interesting stories to tell about breaking through barriers, taking risks and succeeding. Their stories can inspire other women and men to become innovators. In this new edition of the contest, we also want to encourage the next generation and give special recognition to the achievements of young, innovative entrepreneurs."

The nine finalists in the Women Innovators category are:

  • Ms Gema Climent (ES) co-founded the company NESPLORA in San Sebastian, which combines neuroscience and virtual reality to cure mental illnesses
  • Prof Barbara Demeneix (FR) co-founded WatchFrog in Evry, which provides novel solutions to screen water quality and environmental pollutants affecting health
  • Ms Gemma Galdon Clavell (ES) is the founder of Eticas Research and Consulting in Barcelona, which promotes applied and responsible research and innovation in data-intensive technologies.
  • Dr Claudia Gärtner (DE) is a founder of Microfluidic ChipShop in Jena, providing “lab-on-a-chip” systems for better diagnostics
  • Ms África González Fernández (ES) has co-founded NanoImmunoTech in Vigo and pioneers with innovative products at the crossroads of biosensing and nanotoxicology
  • Ms Michela Magas (HR, UK) is the co-founder of Stromatolite, a Design Innovation Lab in London building a new generation of incubation and technology toolkits for innovation
  • Dr Kamila Markram (DE) is the co-founder and CEO of Frontiers in Lausanne (CH), a digital-age scholarly publishing company providing Open Access publishing and Open Science IT solutions
  • Prof Isabel Trillas Gay (ES) co-founded Biocontrol Technologies in Barcelona, which provides bio-pesticides products to minimise pesticide impact on health and the environment
  • Ms Petra Wadström (SE) is the founder of Solvatten in Stockholm, providing a portable water purifier and water heater powered solely by solar energy

The three finalists for the new Rising Innovators Award are:

  • Dr Mary Franzese (IT) revolutionises the treatment of brain damage with her company Neuron Guard in Modena
  • Ms Sandra Rey (FR) creates bioluminescent light without electricity with her biotech company Glowee in Paris
  • Ms Kristina Tsvetanova (BG) provides the first ‘tablet’ for blind users with her company BLITAB Technology in Vienna

The finalists were selected by a high-level jury consisting of independent experts from business, venture capital, entrepreneurship and academia. 47 applications were submitted from across the EU and the countries associated to Horizon 2020, the EU's funding programme for research and innovation, which provides the prize money for the Women Innovators award. The companies created by the contestants showcase innovations in a wide range of sectors, with life science and ICT being the most dominant ones. The twelve finalists were presented at the UNConvention event in Brussels.

Background

Following the success of its first three editions in 2011, 2014 and 2016, applications to the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2017 closed in November 2016. Three cash prizes of €100,000, €50,000 and €30,000 will be awarded in the main Women Innovators category and one prize of €20,000 will be awarded to the first ever winner of the Rising Innovator Award. The winners will be announced on 8 March 2017 at the European Parliament in Brussels as part of the celebrations for International Women's Day.

The aim of the Prize is to raise public awareness of the need for more innovation and more women entrepreneurs, and to recognise the success of women in innovation. Although women are increasingly active in research, there are still too few of them who create innovative enterprises. This represents an untapped potential for Europe, which needs to use all its human resources to their full potential to remain competitive and find solutions to economic and societal challenges.