Wednesday, April 21

EIT Health kicks off hackathon challenge focused on women’s health and digital therapeutics

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Health Wild Card programme will bring together 45 participants to find solutions in areas of high unmet need within women’s health and digital therapeutics. The annual hackathon goes online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and will run from 1– 10 July.

Beginning with two challenges set by EIT Health, the annual Wild Card programme invites innovators from across Europe to respond with their ideas.

Successful applicants start the challenge with a hackathon; putting them through rounds on team formation, critical thinking, business model development and pitching.

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Participants will pitch their solution to a panel of industry leaders to secure a spot in the finals, at which point they pitch for EIT Health investment to incorporate their company and bring their solution to market.

Selected teams will be incubated by EIT Health and awarded up to €2 million each of EIT Health investment at the end of October to develop their company and platform.


Research into women’s health and well-being in Europe shows that women’s health has historically been under-recognised, and understanding of women’s health conditions and solutions to treat them have been slow.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), women in Europe live, on average, ten years in ill health with cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health conditions being the main causes of morbidity and mortality.

Some studies have also shown that women are generally underrepresented in medical research, and are significantly more likely to have an adverse reaction to medication than men.

Digital therapeutics interventions can be used to treat, manage or prevent a disease or condition using software programmes, and can be used independently, or combined with existing interventions to optimise patient care and improve outcomes.


First launched in 2017, the Wild Card program offers European companies a way to connect with various healthcare stakeholders. Past winners include Abtrace and Smart4Diagnostics, who were named winners in 2018 and have since launched their products onto the market; and iLoF and PIPRA, who were winners in 2019.

Although a relatively new field of healthcare, digital therapeutics hold promise in revolutionising current medical practice, particularly in therapeutic areas where traditional medicine has fallen short.

With an ageing population in Europe and many healthcare systems under strain from the demand caused by ageing and non-communicable diseases, new ways of treating and managing patients has become a priority for health care professionals.

In May, the EIT fast-tracked its health funding for COVID-19 innovation projects as CEO Jan-Philipp Beck said the COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate the speed of change enabled by digital healthcare and telemedicine.


“The Hackathon is a very exciting phase of the Wild Card programme – it’s where we see highly talented individuals come together with complementary skill sets, where initial ideas are transformed into game-changing and viable business ventures, and where participants go from entrepreneur to CEO-in-waiting,” said Jorge Juan Fernández García, director of innovation, EIT Health.

“Beyond the excitement, we are also reminded that we are here with a serious purpose – we simply must do more to drive advancements in women’s health and take advantage of the possibilities afforded to us by digital therapeutics. We look forward to discovering and developing the very best talent that can help us to improve the lives of patients and citizens in Europe.”

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