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María González Manso wins 2024 European Prize for Women Innovators

19th March 2024

At a ceremony held in Brussels last night as part of the European Commission’s Research and Innovation week, The European Institute of Innovation and Technology and the European Innovation Council announced EIT Health-supported innovator, María González Manso, as the winner of the 2024 European Prize for Women Innovators, in the Rising Innovators category. Three other EIT Health-supported founders were also recognised as runners up in the awards which celebrate the women entrepreneurs behind game-changing innovations.

Since the European Prize for Women Innovators launch in 2011, over 30 women scientists and entrepreneurs have been awarded prizes, and a further 100 women have been shortlisted for the final. As well as prizes, the awards help connect women innovators, giving them a chance to network and build out a community. As a result, these women have become role models for women and girls, helping to break down barriers and change the narrative about women in tech, a historically male dominated industry.

María González Manso, CEO and Co-Founder of Spanish start-up tucuvi, which automates follow-up phone consultations with empathetic artificial intelligence won the Rising Innovators category, which recognises promising young innovators under the age of 35. Maria, who has been supported on her journey to this win by EIT Health programmes, will receive €50,000 to help her business grow.

Maria said: “Tucuvi has had the support of many EIT Health programmes, the most recent being the Bridgehead programme, which helped us do a soft landing in the US. Now the Woman Innovators Awards is a great recognition of the effort Tucuvi is making to transform healthcare delivery and helps us to continue growing and scaling our impact.”

Barbara Oliveira, CTO and Co-Founder of Luminate Medical, whose technology helps prevent the side effects of cancer treatment, was also recognised in the Rising Innovators category, as a runner up. Barbara said: “This is the recognition of many years of hard work in bringing Luminate’s innovation to solve the patient experience during cancer treatment to light.”

The achievements of two more EIT Health-supported innovators were recognised in the awards. Elena García Armada (Spain), CEO and Co-Founder of Marsi Bionics, which develops paediatric exoskeletons and robotic knees was recognised as a runner up in the Women Innovators category which recognises all women founders and co-founders across the EU and Associated Countries. On her recognition, Elena thanked the EIT, specifically the EIT Health Bridgehead programme, which helped Marsi Bionics extend its international expansion in seven countries.

In the EIT Women Leadership category, which recognises exceptional members of the EIT Community, Cristina Purtill (Ireland), CEO of Plio Surgical was recognised as a runner up. Plio Surgical develops a magnetic solution to intestinal post-surgery recovery. On this recognition, Cristina said: “I see this as an opportunity to inspire others, especially women, to pursue their ambitions with determination and resilience.”

Women are an important source of talent, but they are often discouraged or turned away from the world of tech, which is a risk the industry can’t afford to make. An EIT study in association with Dealroom found that women-founded tech scale-ups grew 1.2x faster than their competitors over the past five years. Studies like this demonstrate the degree of potential Europe can tap into if makes tech more inclusive to women.

What’s more, without women’s perspectives and inclusion in the creation of cutting-edge tech, future innovations may fail to meet people’s real needs and instead reproduce the inequities present in our status quo. EIT Health recognises how important inclusivity is within innovation to ensure that the innovative solutions of the future meet the needs of all.

Jean-Marc Bourez, CEO, EIT Health said: “We’re thrilled to see four EIT Health-supported innovators being celebrated by EIC and EIT! To ensure that healthcare innovations meet the needs of all, inclusive innovation is vital and awards like this help increase the visibility of women-led start-ups developing transformative solutions. It makes me so proud to see women innovators whose business growth our programmes have supported being recognised at a pan-European level.”

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