The winners, chosen by a jury of independent experts, were announced at the European Research and Innovation Days, this year taking place entirely online. They are (in alphabetical order):
- Madiha Derouazi (Switzerland), founder and CEO of Amal Therapeutics, a company developing therapeutic cancer vaccines.
- Maria Fátima Lucas (Portugal), co-founder and CEO of Zymvol Biomodeling, a company developing computer-designed industrial enzymes by applying molecular modelling.
- Arancha Martínez (Spain), co-founder and Managing Director of It Will Be. Her company helps tackle poverty through technological innovation, providing support to vulnerable women and children.
The three winners will all receive a €100,000 cash prize for their achievements.
The Rising Innovator 2020 prize, awarded to an exceptional innovator under the age of 35, goes to:
- Josefien Groot (Netherlands), co-founder and CEO of Qlayers. Her company is developing microstructures to boost the efficiency of wind turbines.
Ms Groot will receive a €50,000 cash prize for her achievements.
Commissioner Gabriel said:
It is a great privilege to be in a position to recognize such exceptional innovators. Today we shine a spotlight on inspiring women who are leading the charge in bringing life-changing innovations to the market. It is my hope that with this prize, our winners will go on to inspire many other women to create innovative businesses in Europe.
Three women, who the jury felt had stood out amongst the other finalists, received a ‘special mention’ prize for their achievements.
In the main category:
- Cécile Real (France), co-founder and CTO of Endodiag. Her company develops early diagnosis solutions for endometriosis, a disease affecting 180 million women worldwide.
In the Rising Innovator category:
- Ailbhe Keane (Ireland), founder and creative director of Izzy Wheels. Her company creates fashionable wheel covers for wheelchairs.
- Rebecca Saive (Germany), co-founder and CTO of ETC Solar, a company developing a micro metal 3D printing tool to improve the performance of solar cells.
Though there are more women than men in Europe, only 16% of European start-ups are founded or co-founded by women, and a mere 6% have all-female founding teams. Studies show that more female leaders and women on boards leads to greater creativity, broader decision-making and better team performance. But, most importantly, more female leaders means more role models for girls and young women, which is critical if we want to achieve gender parity in Europe.
Achieving a Union of Equality that promotes gender equality in all spheres of life is one of the priorities of the European Commission. The Commission is working with Member States and countries associated to Horizon 2020 to overcome the barriers to women entrepreneurship and encourage more women to start their own companies.
First launched in 2011, the EU Prize for Women Innovators was created to raise awareness of the need for more female entrepreneurs and create role models for women and girls. The prize is awarded every year to four talented women entrepreneurs from across the EU and Associated Countries, who have founded a successful company and brought innovation to market. Three winners each receive €100,000, with another €50,000 awarded to a Rising Innovator, aged 35 or younger. The winners were chosen by an expert jury following an open call for applications. Over 200 applications were submitted this year, and 21 women were shortlisted for the final.
- Publication date
- 23 September 2020
- Directorate-General for Research and Innovation