Less than a week before the 8 March celebration of International Women’s Day, the EIT Health project called “WE Health: Empowering Women Entrepreneurship in Health Innovation” held a design thinking workshop to identify ways to improve the involvement of women in healthcare innovation.

The 2 March WE Health workshop at IESE Business School in Barcelona allowed participants to share ideas on the needs of young life science researchers, physician researchers in hospital settings, innovators in companies, entrepreneurs and female faculty trainers. Attendees included various women CEOs of health startups and the innovation director of a major industrial partner.

Developed out of a Twitter exchange last year between EIT Health Campus partners at Imperial, TUM, Karolinska and IESE Business School, WE Health is a new strategic project of EIT Health Campus. The project aims at enhancing the participation of women in innovation and entrepreneurship activities, by providing capacity building specifically tailored to women’s needs and by inspiring and supporting them to advance in their professional careers. WE Health also aims at generating new innovative ideas to encourage more women to participate in the EIT Health community.

The goal of the 2 March workshop was to explore innovative ideas on how to foster female innovation in the healthcare sector. Participants held creative discussions on the professional and personal journeys of different women, looking at their challenges and needs in terms of professional growth in realising their dream of health innovation. Solutions recommended included capacity building events of a short duration – a few days – combined with online sessions and support. Participants stressed the importance of an informal approach, involving a relaxing environment that allows for peer-to-peer coaching and emotional support.

An initial survey on the needs of women entrepreneurs in health innovation, launched by WE Health earlier this year, drew 216 responses in a little over two weeks. The responses revealed the continuing perceived disparity of opportunity for women entrepreneurs and innovators, particularly when it comes to higher leadership positions.

Based on the needs identified by the survey and the 2 March workshop, the project is now planning three capacity-building workshops:

  • IESE Business School: 10-12 May
  • Karolinska Institutet: 19-21 June
  • Technische Universität München: 4-6 September.

Registration for the workshops will be open in late March.

Find out more about the project here.