EIT Health

Annual Report

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We stand at the precipice of a transitioning world. 

As COVID-19 continues to dominate global health, both the direct and indirect impact of the pandemic has led recovery to fall even further behind. At the same time, crises such as armed conflict, political and economic instability, increasing food insecurity, and the growing impact of climate change threaten to further derail development after the pandemic. 

We face an opportunity to reflect on our progress so far and the further steps needed to ensure an equitable and resilient recovery from COVID-19. These steps include the need for the European community to collaborate even more closely in providing effective and efficient joint support. 

For this very reason, EIT Health’s role, bringing together stakeholders from business, research, education, and healthcare delivery, has never been more vital. EIT Health bridges the gap between traditionally siloed worlds, creating a productive environment so that life-changing innovation can happen. Using our collective strengths and assets, we drive societal impact that none of us could achieve alone. 

Throughout 2021, we have maximised on opportunities to transform healthcare for healthier citizens and a re-energised economy, at a time when it was needed most.  

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to our Partners, who collaborated with us throughout 2021. Together, we made valuable contributions, which have impacted the lives of patients and citizens across Europe and beyond. 

We would also like to extend heartfelt gratitude to all healthcare professionals and students, to whom we are forever indebted and who will help us in building a brighter future.


True to our motto, Together for healthy lives in Europe, collaboration was at the heart of our work in 2021, the second year of the pandemic. Working across borders, we connected and enabled the brightest minds from business, research, education, and healthcare delivery, creating the right environment for innovation to flourish.

Our projects and activities helped to accelerate new solutions and approaches that can scale and transform healthcare in Europe. Bringing together the right people on key topics, we drove thought leadership to harmonise where there is fragmentation, and initiate innovation effectively.  

To provide the right structure for this vital work, our organisation initiated a governance reform to be concluded in 2022. This will increase cohesion across our pan-EU Co-Location Centres and ensure we are fully adapted to Horizon Europe’s legislative framework and agreements – the EU’s new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

This year, we adopted a new strategic agenda which set our long-term ambitions until 2027. This longer-term vision aligns with the adoption of EIT’s new Strategic Innovation Agenda as well as   Horizon Europe, for the period 2021-2027. After years of growth, we undertook an organisational transformation and have implemented a more comprehensive impact measurement methodology to assess and drive our continued success.    

As the pandemic continued, we continued to make significant contributions to the EIT community response to COVID-19 across Europe, while delivering strong results across ongoing activities.  

To promote better health of citizens, new products, services, and programmes were realised, driven by own network of Partners, with our help.  

We also supported projects to drive systemic change and strengthen healthcare systems in Europe. This year, we set up dedicated High Value Care pilots with the aim of improving patient outcomes and generating clinical evidence to improve healthcare system sustainability.

Alongside collaboration, diversity and inclusion remained intrinsic to our operations: 

Our employees were 66% female and 34% male 

Our management team was 50% female and 50% male 

All evaluation teams and panels of experts were gender balanced 

Our Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) programme funded 11 projects in progressing regions to bridge the innovation gap

We supported 15 early-stage RIS start-ups through our InnoStars Awards

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EIT Health Community in action

327 start-ups supported across Europe to grow their businesses

€824M in investment attracted by our supported start-ups and scale-ups

€1.7co-investment capability attracted by The Venture Centre of Excellence (VCoE), including €150M invested by the European Commission

102 new jobs and 5 new start-ups and created 

innovations launched on the market, into the hands of those who need them

279,277citizens and patients benefitted from solutions we developed or implemented  

1,662  students and  3,483 professionals trained by EIT Health education programmes

ThinkTank reports launched contributing to healthcare policy development in Europe

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Fostering innovation throughout the pandemic

Strengthening healthcare systems 

Never has our work to strengthen healthcare systems been more urgently needed than throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, our fight against the pandemic continued through cross-border response projects, which made significant contributions to strengthen healthcare systems. Initiated in 2020, these projects developed new solutions across testing and diagnostics, treatments and vaccines, medical and personal protective equipment, clinical support, and patient monitoring.

Covidum Community 

Of the various successes of our cross-border COVID-19 response projects, one is particularly notable. Through our project, Covidum Community, we developed a web application that improved home monitoring of patients with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. Providing ambulatory medicine based on remote surveillance, it has helped 300,000 patients so far.

Pandemic hinders progress of clinical trials 

In 2021, the impact of COVID-19 continued to hinder progress of clinical trials. Resources within the healthcare system were focused on the pandemic response, making regular processes slower. This shift in focus, added to existing difficulties in data gathering, made it hard for start-ups to meet the evidential requirements needed to gain market access. 

Easing the path to market access 

In the face of pandemic-driven operational challenges within the innovation landscape, the support we gave start-ups to become market-ready became even more vital. With our help to refine their business model, overcome regulatory hurdles, and attract finance, EIT Health-supported start-ups have been able to put solutions into the hands of those who need them most, much faster. 

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Helping realise solutions to unmet health needs

Launching products on to the market 

In 2021, we launched eight innovative products and services onto the market to help meet pressing meeting unmet health needs. A total of 279,277 citizens and patients benefitted from solutions we helped develop or implement. We also supported the design and testing of a further 15 innovations.

Discover some of the projects that achieved market launch in 2021

SeizeIT2 is a discreet, personalised epileptic seizure detection device.

RGS@HOME is a home version of a Rehabilitation Gaming System (RGS), a hospital-proven neurorehabilitation technique.

PAPRIKA is a solution to empower patients to prepare for major surgery at home. 

Ongoing growth in 2021 

In addition to the new products launched onto the market in 2021, our more mature portfolio of innovation projects launched in previous years went from strength-to-strength. Read on to learn about the landmark achievements of Optellum and Clinomic this year


Optellum, is an Oxford-based lung health technology company, supported by our innovation project LUCINDA. The start-up marked a world’s-first in 2021 by achieving FDA clearance for the application of artificial intelligence (AI) decision support in lung cancer diagnosis. They went on to announce a strategic collaboration with the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson to further their work.


Supported by our innovation project Clinical Artificial Intelligence Improving Healthcare, German start-up, Clinomic, is developing an AI-based solution to revolutionise patient care in intensive care units. In 2021, they announced successfully closing their latest funding round with a total of seven million euros. Their latest funds will help them further develop their solution, bringing them one step closer to market.  

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Contributing to a sustainable health economy in Europe

Supporting Europe’s top health start-ups  

As well as launching products through projects, we nurture top European health start-ups to accelerate market access. In 2021, we supported 327 start-ups and scale-ups, through our programmes, which give founders the opportunity to learn new skills, connect to a vast network of experts, and grow their business. In doing so, we helped contribute to a sustainable health economy in Europe. Our supported start-ups and scale ups attracted €824M in 2021 and we created 102 new jobs.

Investing €3M in cancer and Parkinson’s through Wild Card 

Our Wild Card programme builds and invests in promising ventures with bold solutions to Europe’s greatest healthcare challenges. In 2021, we announced our support for two innovator teams following the 2020 Wild Card programme, selecting MiMARK and Orbit Health. The two teams, from Spain and Germany respectively, will be supported by EIT Health over two years with up to 1.5 million euros each. MiMARK is developing a liquid biopsy to improve the accuracy and efficiency of endometrial cancer diagnosis. Orbit Health is personalising Parkinson’s disease treatment through AI. 

Bridgehead success stories 

Our Bridgehead programme helps scale-ups expand to new markets. In 2021, 11 solutions, services and markets were launched and opened. Among these successes, Bridgehead supported BestHealth4U, a company focused on ostomy (surgery creating an opening from an area inside the body to outside), to open markets in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. We also helped Biel Glasses, a company developing smart glasses for people with low vision, to start sales in Denmark and Spain, and advance towards Germany and Netherlands. 

Acquisitions of our supported start-ups 

We are proud to celebrate that three companies supported by our programmes were acquired in 2021. DoDOC, selected for Bridgehead Europe support, was acquired by Envision Pharma Group, and PatchAi was acquired by Alira Health. Prior to the acquisition, PatchAi reached the 2020 finals of Catapult, our programme which fast-tracks Europe’s best start-ups, in the digital health category. Read on to learn about the third EIT Health-supported start-up that was acquired in 2021. 

PhagoMed acquired by BioNTech SE 

PhagoMed was acquired by BioNTech SE, the company that partnered with Pfizer on a COVID-19 vaccine, to further develop its novel technology in a key area of unmet medical need – antimicrobial resistance. Prior to the acquisition, PhagoMed was accelerated by our Gold Track programme, which helps promising start-ups scale by pairing them with top-flight life science advisors. The team were also 2020 Catapult winners in the biotech category, which helped them gain pan-EU exposure to experts and investors. 

“We are thrilled to partner with BioNTech to further advance our synthetic lysin technology to address pressing health challenges. We thank the team and our mentors at EIT Health for their support to help us refine our pipeline, platform and business model that enabled us to achieve our critical business goals in this short timeline,” said Alexander Belcredi and Lorenzo Corsini, co-CEOs of PhagoMed


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Enabling European health start-ups to attract capital

Venture Centre of Excellence and Investor Network 

The Venture Centre of Excellence (VCoE), which we run in partnership with the European Investment Fund (EIF), is a public-private co-investment programme to empower finance for European health start-ups. In 2021, VCoE supported five start-ups to attract €35 million of investments and established initial deal flow and connection with the European Investment Fund and other venture capital investors. Our Investor Network supported 15 start-ups, attracting more than €23 million of investment.  

Invest Health 

These outstanding results led us to ask how we can take the support we provide start-ups to attract capital to the next level. The answer is a new for-profit investment services company, Invest Health, part of the EIT Health family. When it launches, Invest Health will bring together cutting-edge enterprises with investors and corporate partners around the world. It will help private funding to identify and support the market-ready businesses primed to answer our biggest health challenges.  

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Empowering the innovators of the future

Education as an innovation enabler 

Education is the first step in enabling innovation. In 2021, we provided a dynamic learning environment to equip people with entrepreneurship skills and support them to evolve their ideas. Despite the pandemic necessitating shifts to online training, over the year we trained 1,662 students, 3,483 professionals and 4,101 patients and citizens. 

Building Europe’s innovation capacity 

By ensuring a diverse range of future innovators were empowered, we fed the innovation pipeline and continued to build Europe’s innovation capacity. Our training will have an even greater reach in 2022, with the launch of Academy, a new platform to enhance the scalability and reach of our education programmes.  

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Addressing the skills and talent gaps

Talent shortage threatens the healthcare industry 

The talent shortage threatens the sustainability and growth potential of the healthcare industry. Therefore, addressing it is of key strategic importance for EIT Health. Although talent shortages exist across the board, there are specific skillsets where new and emerging roles are leading to exponential demand. These include digital, commercial, and innovation settings. 

Leveraging our network 

As the largest community of health innovators in Europe, we are uniquely placed to address the healthcare talent shortage. Our network gives us the unique power to tap into both recruiters and candidates, matching talent across the sector. It also allows us to support in upskilling and reskilling, increasing the volume of talent in the areas of greatest demand. 

WorkinHealth Foundation 

Collective action is required to secure the future of our industry. So, this year we have laid the groundwork to launch a new initiative in 2022. The WorkInHealth Foundation will address the evident and growing skills and talent gaps within the healthcare industry across Europe. In our first phase, we will seek corporate donors to work with us and shape the future of healthcare. 

“If Europe is to maintain a vibrant and sustainable healthcare sector that can lead in innovation, we must rise to the challenge of recruiting and educating the best talent.” – Celine Carrera, Director of Education at EIT Health and WorkInHealth Foundation Chair


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Driving thought leadership to effect change

Shaping the healthcare landscape 

Innovation is wasted if the world isn’t ready for it, which is why our thought leadership activity aims to contribute to the healthcare policy debate within Europe. Our primary thought leadership vehicle, the EIT Health Think Tank, brings together Europe’s most influential thought leaders and subject matter experts from within and beyond our network, to debate pressing issues facing our healthcare innovation ecosystem. We widely disseminate our analysis of these discussions and insights, bringing recommendations and suggested solutions to the fore, to shape the environment in which we operate and catalyse change. 

Generating insights for the European Commission and beyond 

Across 2021, we organised or participated in eight high-level pan-EU policy events. We published two new Think Tank Reports: “Are we MDR ready?” and “Learning from health data use cases: Real-world challenges and enablers to the creation of the European Health Data Space (EHDS)”. These well-received reports enabled us to contribute to policy development. 

Are we MDR ready? 

In May, the EIT Health Think Tank published “Are we MDR Ready?”. This report captured the outcomes of three focus groups that sought to ascertain the level of readiness and preparedness for regulators and manufacturers for the new Medical Devices Regulation. The insights in the report helped identify what educational or other relevant resources could be provided and disseminated through the network.  

Learning from health data use cases 

In agreement with the European Commission, we engaged in a research exercise to support the development of the legislative framework of the EHDS. In the resulting report, “Learning from health data use cases: Real-world challenges and enablers to the creation of the EHDS”, we described use cases to outline real world barriers to maximising the full potential of health data in Europe, with help from our Partners. The report was shared with the European Commission and disseminated through a launch event attended by policy makers. 

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Prioritising High Value Care

Why do we need High Value Care? 

Ageing populations and the increasing burden of chronic disease, are driving a need for efficient and sustainable healthcare systems that deliver real value for patients. High Value Care (HVC), also known as Value-based Healthcare (VBHC) is a methodology that targets the outcomes that make the biggest difference to patients, while driving cost efficiencies within health services. 

New High Value Care track 

In 2021, we introduced a dedicated High Value Care track in our call for proposals, as part of our commitment to strengthen healthcare systems in Europe. By supporting co-creation with Partners, we have united our community around HVC principles, while providing faster expert feedback to ensure projects are designed to make the biggest difference to patents.  

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Looking forward

Across 2022 and beyond, we will continue to work with our Partners, to achieve our strategic goals of:


Strengthening healthcare systems.

Promoting better health of citizens.

Contributing to a sustainable health economy in Europe. 

To achieve these goals, we will continue to work collaboratively to: 

Accelerate innovations to achieve wide market uptake in Europe through collaborative projects.

Increase the value and impact of European health start-ups and generate quality jobs in the sector. 

Attract and develop those with the potential to design, develop or use healthcare innovations. 

Support key players to transform care towards outcomes that benefit patients most. 

Shape healthcare innovation policy in Europe, based on our evidence, learnings, and experience.

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The future innovations we help to launch will have tangible impact on people in Europe and our healthcare systems. So, in 2022, it is of key importance that patients and citizens continue to be involved throughout the innovation process. To track our impact, we will carry on measuring the direct benefit our innovations have on patients and citizens across the EU and beyond. 

In 2022, we will extend our community’s reach by creating a new Co-Location Centre (CLC) in Austria. With strong local support from three ministries and the city of Vienna, our new CLC will be well-resourced to ramp up quickly and reinforce our network. We will also evolve our Alumni network, a multi-disciplinary community of innovators which connects participants of EIT Health’s activities. 

Over the next year, we will look at ways to focus our portfolio across initiatives that address the underlying drivers of health. We will work with our Partners to identify areas where we can shift the dial most, so we can evolve our strategy to best leverage our collective assets to maximise societal impact.  

Read our business plan to learn more about what we hope to achieve in 2022. 

Thank you for reading the EIT Health Annual Report 2021. Do you want to deliver societal impact with us? Learn about our Partnership network and find out how to join.  

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