13th September 2023
Peter holds an engineering degree in urban planning and brings almost a decade of experience in innovation to EIT Health. He has designed communication and marketing projects at Siemens (London), the Urban Land Institute (Frankfurt) and the BMW Guggenheim Lab (Berlin), showcasing outstanding urban innovators around the world. Most recently, he worked for six years at EIT Climate-KIC (Berlin & Vienna) as overall Head of Communications Management and Communications Director ad Interim. He is the Communications Lead of the new EIT Health Austria since November 2022.
Q: Tell us about your journey into communication!
PU: Once there was a time when I was a very innocent urban planning engineer – with decent writing skills – trying to get a foothold in German public administration. But then I got sidetracked by a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on a project for the New York Guggenheim Museum: The BMW Guggenheim Lab. Suddenly, I found myself working in communications and marketing teams of leading companies and institutions dealing with urban innovations – and impressive experts who go hand in hand with these innovations. I continued this way of working and never looked back. Expanding my professional background to hands-on management of communications projects led me to a row of amazing work opportunities, incl. Siemens, the Urban Land Institute, EIT Climate-KIC and now – EIT Health!
Q: Why did you decide to join EIT Health Austria?
PU: Urban planning is basically a health discipline. Its development into a major scientific field was largely driven by the need of creating healthy living conditions on a big scale. Away from the cramped and dark structures of the Middle Ages, towards a more modern layout with better access to light, clean air and sun. But from a less theoretical point of view, I’ve spent almost six years managing communications at EIT Climate-KIC, and we looked at ways to improve urban resilience from different systemic angles. The moment Covid happened, I was stuck in my place in Vienna and couldn’t stop thinking about why I have not yet thought about urban resilience more from a health perspective. Eventually, we could observe cities with a variety of defence actions against the pandemic – more and less efficient ones, with real-life human and economic consequences. Therefore, how can we improve the resilience of cities against pandemic events? With this question in the backpack, I jumped into the world of EIT Health.
Q: In your opinion, what role does communication play in health innovation?
PU: I guess there are a thousand angles from which one can answer this question. Let me try one. If you look at health innovation from a societal challenge perspective, one important role of communication is to drive the behavioural changes needed to adapt innovations faster and raise the consciousness of the growing importance of prevention among key stakeholders and the general public. From this perspective, communication almost looks like a stand-alone health innovation activity. The more obvious angle is the important role of good communication in any innovation project, including translating complex thoughts and concepts for different audiences and improving the delivery of key messages and a solid call to action.
Q: On a different note, what’s the best advice you have been given?
PU: Wenn du kein Blut siehst, gibt’s keinen Grund richtig gestresst zu sein. Let me translate: If you don’t see blood, there’s no reason to get stressed out. More context on that: My father, who is now in his mid-eighties, has spent his life as an emergency doctor and general practitioner. He gave me this advice when he saw me visibly stressed during a visit, waffling about approaching deadlines. His stress peaks were car accidents, mine a project deadline. I often have to reflect on his words and approach to stressful situations. It helps me set everything job-related in a healthier context!
Q: What’s next for EIT Health Austria?
We just had a magical conference at Palais Auersperg with 200 attendees from all over Europe and a fantastic event collaboration with LISAvienna and Health Hub Vienna during ViennaUp. Hearing Hubert Wackerle, Bertalan Meskó or Lucien Engelen talk about their vision of healthcare was certainly an experience! Topic-wise, we will take off into the European Health Data Space and are planning a great event collaboration next spring – more to come. From an editorial perspective, you can expect more interviews with our Partners, Programme participants and colleagues. You can also expect to see and hear more voices on entrepreneurship in healthcare in our growing LinkedIn community. Curious? See you there!
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