Skip to main content
Research and innovation
News article4 April 2019Directorate-General for Research and Innovation3 min read

EU Prize for Women Innovators 2019: thirteen candidates in the final

Thirteen successful women entrepreneurs who have brought their breakthrough ideas to the market are in the shortlist for the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2019, funded under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, announced their names at an event in Brussels:

This year we have had so many amazing innovators applying for the prize. It shows that there are a lot of women innovators who deserve recognition for their ideas and the impact they have on our daily lives. Yet, there is also still a lot of untapped potential and talent and I hope our finalists will inspire other women to become innovators themselves.

The finalists have founded or co-founded successful companies based on their breakthrough ideas. Nine of them are competing for three prizes in the main category, and four for the Rising Innovator title that recognises excellent female entrepreneurs under the age of 35.

The nine finalists in the main Women Innovators category are:

  • Özge Akbulut (Turkey), co-founder and CEO of Surgitate, a company designing and producing tissue and organ models with realistic responses to surgical interventions. Their flagship product, a breast model, is used for breast surgery training on three continents.
  • Irina Borodina (Lithuania), co-founder and CTO of BioPhero, a biotech company in Denmark producing pheromones as a safe and effective alternative to pesticides.
  • Martine Caroff (France), founder of the biotechnological company LPS-BioSciences, which specialises in bacterial endotoxins for vaccines, in vitro diagnostic, cosmetics, and medical devices.
  • Nuria Espallargas (Spain), co-founder of Seram Coatings in Norway, and co-inventor of ThermaSiC, one of the world’s hardest synthetic materials. It is used as a thermal coating spray with superior performance that increases product lifetime and reduces maintenance costs.
  • Jalila Essaïdi (The Netherlands), founder and CEO of a biotech company Inspidere BV. Her multiple patented innovations for producing manure-derived bioplastics and fibres turn the acute agricultural problem of excess manure into a sustainable local resource.
  • Shimrit Perkol-Finkel (Israel), co-founder and CEO of ECOncrete Tech, a company offering high-performance and environmentally sensitive solutions that enhance the biological and ecological value of urban, coastal, and marine infrastructures.
  • Cécile Real (France), co-founder and CTO of Endodiag. The company has shortened the duration of diagnosis of endometriosis, a disease that causes unbearable pain and infertility and affects 180 million women worldwide, from several years to a few days.
  • Melanie Rieback (USA), co-founder and CEO of Radically Open Security in the Netherlands, the world’s first non-profit computer security consultancy. Its novel business model supports open-source data and includes employees in a profit-sharing scheme.
  • Carol Robinson (United Kingdom), the co-founder and Scientific Advisor of the drug discovery company OMass Therapeutics. They develop medicines for rare diseases by using patented high-resolution mass spectrometry technologies.

The four candidates for the Rising Innovator award are:

  • Teresa Baumann (Germany), co-founder and COO of GoSilico, a software company using computer simulation to make the development of new drugs faster and cheaper.
  • Nora Nseir Manassa (Israel), the co-founder and CTO of Nurami Medical, a company developing novel nanofiber and sealant technology to revolutionise surgical tissue grafts.
  • Michela Puddu (Italy), co-founder and CEO of Haelixa in Switzerland. The company uses intelligent DNA-based tracing solutions to ensure ethical and transparent industry practices, with special focus on sustainable products such as organic cotton.
  • Nargis Rahimi (Sweden), co-founder and Director of Partnerships and Communications of the Shifo Foundation. Her team develops radically affordable and scalable solutions to some of the root causes of high maternal and child mortality, such as critical health workforce shortage and the lack of sustainable electronic health information systems.

The finalists were selected by a jury of independent experts from the fields of business, venture capital, entrepreneurship and academia. The Commission received 154 applications from across EU Member States and countries associated to Horizon 2020.


Following the success of its first five editions in 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018, applications to this year’s EU Prize for Women Innovators closed in January 2019. Three cash prizes of €100.000 each will be awarded in the main Women Innovators category and one prize of €50.000 will be awarded to the winner of the Rising Innovator Award. The winners will be announced on 16 May 2019 at the VivaTech Festival in Paris.

The aim of the Prize is to raise public awareness of the need for more innovation and more women entrepreneurs, and to recognise the success of women in innovation. Although women are increasingly active in research, there are still too few of them who create innovative enterprises. This represents an untapped potential for Europe, which needs to use all its human resources to their full potential to remain competitive and find solutions to economic and societal challenges.

More information


Publication date
4 April 2019
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation