EIT Health

Together for healthy lives in Europe

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Jan-Philipp Beck, CEO, EIT Health

2020 was the year that tested us all.

The extent of the impact inflicted by the pandemic was unexpected and much of the world was unprepared.

For the healthcare sector, it posed both challenge and opportunity. As hospitals were overwhelmed, personal protective equipment (PPE) scarce, and techniques to improve the prognosis of the disease unfounded, healthcare innovators across the world stepped up to fight back.

Scientific endeavour has been a true success story within the pandemic and has reminded us of its crucial role in our civilisation. We have seen science deliver new and life-saving technologies in record time, reform ways of working, and, most importantly, bring us back together again.

Necessity is the mother of all invention, and the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for healthcare innovation. We saw adoption of technologies such as artificial intelligence and telemedicine boom during the pandemic, barriers such as reimbursement and regulation pragmatised, and diverse stakeholders coming together towards a common goal. This provided the ideal setting for innovation to flourish, and a revitalised culture of collaboration that we must retain for our future.

It is for this very reason that EIT Health’s role, bringing together stakeholders from research, industry, academia, and healthcare delivery, has never been more important. EIT Health acts as a bridge between traditionally siloed worlds and provides an ecosystem where we can work more strongly towards common goals.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to our partners, who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with us throughout 2020; together, we made valuable contributions, which have impacted the lives of patients and citizens across Europe as well as further afield.

Finally, I would like to extend heart-felt gratitude to all healthcare professionals, to whom we are forever indebted.

Jan-Philipp Beck, CEO, EIT Health


‘Together for healthy lives in Europe’ is the EIT Health motto, and this encapsulates the importance of diverse collaboration. Healthcare is most effective in Europe when we break down silos and work together – across borders and disciplines – so that innovation can flourish and be accelerated to market, reaching patients and citizens.

Partnership is therefore the cornerstone of EIT Health, and to complement our already vast and varied partner network, we welcomed 98 new partner organisations in 2020.

In addition to our formal partnerships, we continued to grow our strategic alliances with relevant organisations, such as with the European Youth Parliament. These collaborations offer opportunities that can help strengthen our resolve and achieve our goals.

2020 saw us rise to the challenge of responding to the COVID-19 crisis while simultaneously delivering on our commitments in other priority areas of healthcare, such as cancer, to bring new solutions where they are needed most.

We supported our highest ever number of young companies in Europe to allow us to build and grow businesses, attract and retain talent in Europe, and catalyse investment to strengthen our economy.

We also supported the educational needs associated with healthcare innovation, offering unique and future thinking programmes to learners of various levels, disciplines, and geographies.

Overall, EIT Health delivered significant progress against our long-term strategic goals in 2020 and solidified our position as an adaptive and highly capable network. Our work in 2020 will undoubtedly shape our future, and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with policy makers and other relevant stakeholders to shape the landscape in which we operate.

Alongside partnership, inclusivity and diversity is a priority for EIT Health, and we continued to ensure balanced representation throughout our operations. To this end:

Our employees were 66% female and 34% male.

Our Executive Management Team was 39% female and 61% male.

Our employees represented 25 different nationalities.

We continued to bridge the innovation gap between strong and more progressive European regions, improving local capacities and supporting pan-European connections.

In 2020 alone we fast-tracked over 200 innovative healthcare solutions from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe.

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EIT Health community in action

91 new partners joined the network; sharing our mission to improve the lives of patients and citizens across Europe.

23 EIT Health solutions launched to the market and into the hands of those who need them.

31 new projects began to find further innovative solutions in areas of unmet need.

67 education programmes were delivered, engaging over 20,000 people.

Almost 13,000 patients and citizens co-created EIT Health solutions alongside us.

62 of our partners and start-ups joined us in the fight against COVID-19. Together, we began research and development of 36 new solutions including diagnostics, equipment and data platforms.

489 start-ups received our support to build and grow their businesses in Europe.

We invested approx. €7m in them and they went on to attract a further €301.2m and create 300 new jobs for European citizens.

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Fighting back against COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic immediately exposed a number of gaps in healthcare delivery, and our ability to fight back rested on our ability to respond quickly and effectively. Not only that, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to unparalleled economic consequences for European start-ups. Many struggled to close planned funding rounds, secure orders, and continue with business development activity.

Healthcare systems in crisis

In early 2020, healthcare systems were not prepared for the pandemic; we needed affordable and rapid testing, diagnostics, vaccinations, PPE, clinical triaging, patient monitoring, medical therapeutics and devices. Such solutions needed to be found and scaled rapidly across Europe.

Responding with solutions

In response, EIT Health began research and development of 36 new solutions with 62 of our partners and start-ups and a budget of over eight million euros. The focus was on improving diagnostics, clinical triaging, home monitoring, training for healthcare professionals, data and biomarkers, and medical supplies.

Responding with solutions

New product development-Virushield

In line with the huge demand for PPE, the production of masks provided challenges within the pandemic – they were hard to produce at scale, usually disposable, which was detrimental to the environment, and could contribute to spreading the virus if not handled safely. We launched Virushield to provide a self-disinfecting, re-usable, globally available mask in a matter of months. In 2020, 10 million masks have sold in countries across Europe as well as the rest of the world as far as Singapore and Mexico.

Responding with solutions

New product development-Digital Control Centre for COVID-19

We launched a project to implement a data and AI solution into hospitals across Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands that could help to understand how the disease affects different patients and why. The Digital Control Centre for COVID-19 taught us that there were different characteristics of the disease leading to differing severities, and therefore different treatments were needed. Using this insight, personalised treatment could be provided to patients which reduced deaths from COVID-19 by 50%.*

Reference: Garcia-Vidal, C., Moreno-García, E., Hernández-Meneses, M., Puerta-Alcalde, P., Chumbita, M., Garcia-Pouton, N., Linares, L., Rico, V., Cardozo, C., Martínez, J.A., García, F., Mensa, J., Castro, P., Nicolás, J.M., Muñoz, J., Vidal, D. and Soriano, A. (2020). Personalized therapy approach for hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Making Connections

In the early days of the pandemic, it was clear that connectivity was paramount. Vital knowledge, skills and solutions were not being effectively shared across borders, which led to inefficiencies. In response, EIT Health launched an open platform where those working in healthcare could connect in order to share knowledge and resources. At its peak, the platform was seeing 3,500 visitors per day.

Making Connections

Salut Madrid

Madrid was one of the most affected regions in Europe during the pandemic and was immediately faced with issues such as bed and equipment shortages. There was a shortage of life-saving ventilators to meet the demand in cases of severe disease. The Making Connections platform connected the Madrid Health Service to a lung specialist in France who was able to share emergency protocols for use of ventilators.

Start-up rescue

The pandemic had a significant impact on small businesses, and we stepped in to support 11 promising but struggling start-ups across Europe with 5.5 million euros in investment. In addition, we pledged to grant access to other financing instruments such as the EIT Health crowdfunding platform.

Start-up rescue


Swiss start-up Hemotune is developing a potentially revolutionary technology to treat the life-threatening infection, Sepsis.

When the pandemic hit, Hemotune’s future was uncertain due to investors becoming more cautious, which delayed their ability to finish the feasibility testing needed for their prototype development. We provided 500,000 euros of investment to Hemotune to help them continue their vital work.

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Catalysing new and innovative health care solutions

Launching our products onto the market

Alongside 91 of our partners, we launched 23 new solutions to the market in 2020 for diseases such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, and COVID-19. These solutions are now directly benefiting European citizens.

Read more about some of our projects that achieved market launch in 2020:


SENSAPNEA is an at-home diagnostic solution for sleep apnea.

Ultrasonographic Lung Simulator

The Ultrasonographic Lung Simulator is a diagnostic solution to detect damage to the lungs in patients with COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases.


CKDSens is a home healthcare platform for patients with chronic kidney disease.

“The Ultrasonographic Lung Simulator can help detect changes in lungs in the course of COVID-19 and its variants. The number of specialists trained in this field is small, and especially in the time of a pandemic, training was extremely difficult. The innovative lung ultrasound simulator enabled widely available training in this field and could not only help in this pandemic, but could be used more broadly for critically ill patients. We were extremely proud to make our solution available in 2020 and see it as testament to European solidarity, and organisational efficiency of the EIT Health network.“

- Prof. Lucyna Woźniak, Vice Rector, Medical University of Lodz (an EIT Health partner)

Finding solutions in areas of unmet need

We also initiated 31 new projects with 51 partners in areas of healthcare where innovation could help to improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes such as COVID-19, antimicrobial resistance and spinal cord injury.

Read more about some of our projects that we initiated in 2020:

ABLE Human Motion

ABLE Human Motion is a lightweight and affordable exoskeleton to help people with spinal cord injury to walk again.


CLAIRE is an AI-driven virtual assistant for intensive care units to drive efficiencies in care.

Diabeloop for Teenagers

Diabeloop for Teenagers is an artificial pancreas for teenagers with type 1 diabetes.

2020 accolades

In addition to the new products launched onto the market and initiated in 2020, our more mature portfolio (those launched or initiated prior to 2020) went from strength-to-strength. Since our inception in 2015, we have commissioned 122 projects to find new solutions to health challenges, and many of those projects have gone on to impact patients and citizens all over the world.


OncoWatch is an artificial intelligence solution to aid with the diagnosis and grading of prostate cancer. It aims to reduce the burden on specialists by producing intelligent technology that can scan medical images and provide a prognosis to the healthcare professional. In 2020, a study published in world-renowned medical journal, The Lancet, demonstrated that OncoWatch was as effective as medical specialists at detecting and building a picture of prostate cancer.*

Reference: Ström, P., Kartasalo, K., Olsson, H., Solorzano, L., Delahunt, B., Berney, D., Bostwick, D., Evans, A., Grignon, D., Humphrey, P., Iczkowski, K., Kench, J., Kristiansen, G., van der Kwast, T., Leite, K., McKenney, J., Oxley, J., Pan, C., Samaratunga, H., Srigley, J., Takahashi, H., Tsuzuki, T., Varma, M., Zhou, M., Lindberg, J., Lindskog, C., Ruusuvuori, P., Wählby, C., Grönberg, H., Rantalainen, M., Egevad, L. and Eklund, M., 2020. Artificial intelligence for diagnosis and grading of prostate cancer in biopsies: a population-based, diagnostic study. The Lancet Oncology, 21(2), pp.222-232.


MACH is a mobile driving unit for the EXCOR® ventricular assist device, a blood pump to assist children with end-stage heart failure. Children can spend months or years in hospital waiting for a heart transplant, and MACH aims to reduce the impact by offering them mobility and autonomy while receiving treatment. In 2020, MACH was recognised by the European Commission with a ‘Horizon Impact Award’ designed to celebrate societal impact.


iLoF is a game-changing start-up that was created and accelerated through our Wild Card and EIT Jumpstarter programmes. The new start-up is using bio-photonics and AI to revolutionise drug discovery in areas of high unmet need such as Alzheimer’s disease. In 2020, iLoF attracted millions in ongoing funding from investors and was named in the Forbes ’30 under 30’ list in the science and health category.

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Innovating alongside European citizens

Innovation for citizens with citizens

We exist to serve European citizens. Our mission is to enable them to live longer, healthier lives, and we do this through innovation.

Traditionally, the end-users of innovative solutions, such as caregivers or patients themselves, are not included in the process of creation and development.


This has been for a number of reasons including healthcare historically being focussed on doctors as the ‘gatekeepers’ of health, closed circles within research and development, and lack of education and health literacy to enable people to be empowered to have their say.

Involving citizens in innovation

At EIT Health, we strongly believe that healthcare solutions will have limited impact unless they are designed, developed, and launched in collaboration with the people who will use them. In 2020, we continued to make progress against our goal of facilitating citizen involvement in healthcare innovation with 12,928 citizens co-creating EIT Health solutions alongside us.

Citizen information and education

To support more and more citizens in actively engaging with healthcare, we ran 12 education programmes for them in 2020 ranging from online courses co-developed with patients to direct hands-on entrepreneurship training for seniors. These programmes reached a total of 8,434 people.

Patient Innovation Bootcamp

Further, dedicated programmes were launched to support the empowerment of citizens and patients to become entrepreneurs in their own right – after all, who better to design solutions for patients than the patients themselves?

The ‘Patient Innovation Bootcamp’ was one such example which helped patients to channel the challenges associated with their own conditions into viable market-ready products.

“We have collaborated with EIT Health on many initiatives throughout 2020, including the ‘Data Saves Lives’ project, which aims to inform people about the use of health data. With the challenges of an ageing population, chronic disease, and the pandemic, EIT Health’s innovative work can help meet these challenges by developing health interventions that make a real difference to patients. We share the aim of ensuring patients are valued partners in creating equitable, accessible, and sustainable healthcare.”

- Marco Greco, President of the European Patients’ Forum.

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Education as a crucial enabler of healthcare innovation

Education and innovation go hand in hand

A critical success factor for the development, implementation and adoption of innovative solutions relies heavily on education. Not only in terms of educating students, innovators and entrepreneurs but also educating those who will be directly affected. From students, to healthcare professionals, to patients and citizens, EIT Health offers an environment of dynamic learning to support an inventive, empowering, and adaptive ecosystem for innovation to thrive.

With innovation comes change

For example, healthcare professionals must be fluent in data science and digital in today’s landscape in order to work with technologies such as artificial intelligence. Yet traditional curricula does not focus on this aspect of healthcare delivery and there is a gap. Education for professionals, both clinical and non-clinical must recognise the innovation happening on the ground to prepare the workforce for what is coming.

Staying healthy

Likewise, European citizens require education and information to engage more actively in healthcare – either as contributors to the development of innovative solutions, or as gatekeepers of their own health by understanding what they can do to keep themselves healthy or manage a condition more effectively.

The EIT Health education portfolio sets out to plug some of these gaps, offering support for those working in, and accessing, healthcare to obtain the knowledge, skills and support they need in order to navigate the complexities of contemporary healthcare.

In 2020, we ran 67 education programmes that engaged almost 20,000 people. These programmes were designed to attract and embed post-doc students into the healthcare innovation field, upskill and reskill existing professionals, and educate and empower patients and citizens.

Get Wise

We provided education to people with intellectual disabilities (ID) on how to stay healthy and how to approach visits with their doctor. The aim with Get Wise was to help them become more informed and confident in managing their own health and understand and prepare for their visits. This was made available across Ireland and the Netherlands and was co-designed with people with ID.


We equip healthcare professionals across Europe with the skills they will need for the future, such as artificial intelligence. The HelloAI course focuses on upskilling healthcare professionals with knowledge about AI in practice including image analysis, machine learning, and lab and radiology uses.

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Investing in young, European companies

Building the next generation of game changers

As well as bringing our own new products and services to market, we helped young European companies to do the same. We supported 489 start-ups to build and grow their businesses, as well as stimulate our healthcare economy. In addition to the approx. seven million euros we invested in health start-ups in 2020, we supported them with crucial knowledge and skills to advance their prospects.

The economic prosperity driven by this support is evident, with EIT Health-supported start-ups going on to raise 301.2 million euros in funding and create 300 new jobs in 2020 alone.

Accelerator programme – Gold Track

Our Gold Track programme continued in 2020 which aims to support high potential start-ups with accelerated growth under the expert supervision of individual industry titan mentors. As part of the programme, the start-ups are given strategic guidance from those with unique insight to help them navigate the complex field of healthcare and gain significant traction for commercial success. One such start-up is S4DX, who, following support from both the Wild Card and Gold Track programmes, went on to raise five million euros from investors including the European Innovation Council.

Investing in our future

Investment in European healthcare innovation is crucial to our way of life. Not only does investing in healthcare within the EU lead to Europeans gaining timely access to effective and affordable technologies, but it also boosts our economic strength and competitiveness.

Venture Centre of Excellence

To further strengthen the European healthcare investment landscape, we launched the EIT Health Venture Centre of Excellence in 2020, in partnership with the European Investment Fund (EIF).

A first of its kind, this initiative aims to put the focus on health within the investment field by matching knowledgeable investors with high potential start-ups.

Immediately recognising the importance of such initiatives, the European Commission pledged 150 million euros to contribute towards the launch of the Venture Centre of Excellence.

“The crisis [COVID-19] has accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare in Europe. We must seize this opportunity. We need to act strategically and create the conditions for start-ups, industry, healthcare systems and patients to benefit fully from the potential of digital health in Europe. As part of our efforts, today we are offering concrete support towards the Venture Centre of Excellence, an innovative platform fostering collaboration and investment that are much-needed for Europe’s health ecosystem.”

- Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market.

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Driving positive change – the EIT Health Think Tank

Leading the charge

Innovation is wasted if the world isn’t ready. That much is true, but what do we do about it? We take action, of course. As the largest healthcare innovation network in Europe, our calling is clear. We must lead and shape the environment in which we operate.

Within our Think Tank, we analyse knowledge and insights from relevant stakeholders to get the heart of the issues – discussing, debating, and deliberating how we can overcome the challenges that face us as well as how we can recognise the opportunities that are presented.

Current barriers

In 2020, EIT Health leveraged our network to identify some of the key external barriers to healthcare innovation in Europe today, as well as aiming to remove the impediments that will prevent us from excelling tomorrow. We set out to tackle questions such as:

How can we overcome the barriers to wide-scale adoption of AI in healthcare?

How can Europe safely share data for the good of all?

Why does Europe still pay for healthcare regardless of holistic outcomes?

Future proofing Europe

In 2020, we published our Think Tank report ‘Future-proofing Europe’s digital health innovation pathway’. Digital health offers many opportunities for the evolution of healthcare including supporting the delivery of efficient, cost-effective, and accessible care. Our work outlines the opportunities to address changes in the pathway in order to smooth the path to market for digital health.

Focus on AI

In 2020, we placed a large focus on artificial intelligence in healthcare. The healthcare workforce can be complemented by AI, however despite the evident value AI can bring, healthcare services are slow in taking it up on a large scale.

The EIT Health Think Tank sought to identify the challenges at play across our European regions, as well as launching a study alongside McKinsey&Co. The outputs of this body of work were published on

Strategy for AI and data

Additionally, we contributed to policy making decisions as part of the European Commission’s strategy for data and AI. In 2020, we formed a consultative group alongside our partners to discuss the matters at hand. This resulted in a ‘white paper’ which was delivered to the European Commission providing the views of the healthcare innovation community to inform their decision and policy making process.

The EIT Health Think Tank provides an exciting opportunity to connect the community with external stakeholders from all over the world. The Think Tank platform brings together national, European and global experts to answer the most pressing and relevant healthcare questions of the day and brainstorm how innovation can be achieved through the launch of patient-centric products and state-of-the-art services.“

- Prof. Dr. Freimut Schliess, Director Science & Innovation at Profil (an EIT Health partner)

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High value care

Value-based healthcare

Finally, we prioritised value-based healthcare, which was spearheaded by the publication of our ‘Implementing value-based healthcare in Europe’ handbook. This publication lay the foundations for our High Value Care Forum.

State of healthcare

Our healthcare systems are struggling to cope – we have an ageing population, often with multi-morbidities, exponential growth of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and, in turn, growing costs associated with healthcare.

Growing demand

Medical professionals, and healthcare budgets, cannot grow in line with the demand and we must identify areas in which we can drive efficiencies – one such area is how we pay for healthcare products and services (such as a medicine or a device).

High Value Care Forum (HVCF)

At a time when we must demand value, we need to move away from paying for care based on product volumes, to paying when citizens are healthier and happier. In 2020, EIT Health set out to facilitate change by launching the HVCF, which will act as an advocate, educator, developer and supporter of solutions and frameworks which favour meeting outcomes that matter to patients and delivering the best value to healthcare services.

The HVCF has set out to:

Support healthcare providers to transform their approach to reimbursement towards the outcomes that matter most to patients.

Share real-life best practice to demonstrate transformation in practice and inspire replication.

Provide educational support for healthcare professionals in navigating the changes associated with high value care.

Paying for patient outcomes

The best value lies in the fundamental belief that a healthcare service should only pay if the outcomes achieved by a solution benefit the patient in meaningful ways. It sounds simple in theory, but this demands an overhaul of entrenched reimbursement frameworks which have been built around paying for volume rather than paying for outcomes.

HVCF best practice library

In 2020, we launched a case study library to share nine best practice cases. In order to inspire organisations to move towards high value care models, we must demonstrate the implementation and impact of high value care initiatives to demonstrate how the theory works in real life. The case study library shares best practice from pioneers including The Netherlands Heart Registry and Santeon.

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Summit Series

EIT Health Summit

In 2020, we were faced with the challenge of how to continue our flagship annual event in the context of COVID-19. Usually hosted in person, the event is run over two days and attracts thousands of participants from the healthcare innovation field.

Meeting virtually

We decided that the show must go on and hosted a series of online events where participants came together to hear insightful presentations, debate the latest topics, connect and network and see some of the latest innovative solutions from the healthcare community.

2,079 people registered for the event

90% rated it very good or excellent

The content of the sessions was excellent and eye-opening, it truly felt like being at the cutting edge, where the decisions that will shape future healthcare are being outlined.”

- Summit Series attendee

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Looking forward

Across 2021 and 2022, we will continue to progress against our goals while paying clear attention to:

Improving the outcomes that matter to patients and citizens to enable them to live longer, healthier lives.

Increasing investment, creating high quality jobs, and driving growth in the healthcare economy.

Increasing efficiency, reducing wasteful spending and costs, and improving access to high value care.

By assessing the strategic health priorities in the short and long term, our work is guided by the needs on the ground; bringing focus to areas where innovation can have a significant impact.

Across 2021 and 2022, we will deliver numerous activities, including:

37 new products and services developed to bring innovative solutions in areas of high unmet need.

37 education programmes offered to students, entrepreneurs, medical and industry professionals, and citizens.

15 accelerator programmes to build and grow a new generation of European health start-ups and SMEs.

The premise of our activities will be collaboration, and we strive to utilise this to deliver new and innovative products and services to market, connect stakeholders to overcome fragmentation, deliver high quality and novel education programmes, and provide a unique support system for start-ups and SMEs. We will continue to advance the innovation performance of more regions across Europe, especially countries with moderate or modest innovation scores as defined by the European Innovation Scoreboard through the continued efforts of our Regional Innovation Scheme.

Our portfolio will include cutting-edge science, research and innovation including MiMARK, who we are working with to provide early, accurate and affordable diagnostics for endometrial

cancer; the Gold Track programme, which pairs promising companies with leading top-flight life science advisors to guide them in strategy, operational execution, and scaling, setting them on a path to success; HelloAI Professional, a course helping healthcare professionals to overcome the challenges of implementation and understanding of AI in healthcare by empowering them with knowledge about how AI works, and the benefits it can provide.

Thank you for taking the time to read the EIT Health Annual Report 2020.

To find out more about EIT Health please visit our website

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