The finalists of the Horizon 2020-funded EU Prize for Women Innovators 2017 were announced recently by the European Commission. The shortlist contains twelve outstanding women entrepreneurs who have brought their breakthrough ideas to the market. For the first time, this year's contest includes three finalists in a new category, the Rising Innovator, to recognise excellence in female entrepreneurs aged 30 years or under. All of the finalists have founded or co-founded a successful company based on their innovative ideas.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "The twelve finalists are all talented innovators with interesting stories to tell about breaking through barriers, taking risks and succeeding. Their stories can inspire other women and men to become innovators. In this new edition of the contest, we also want to encourage the next generation and give special recognition to the achievements of young, innovative entrepreneurs."
The nine finalists in the Women Innovators category are:
The three finalists for the new Rising Innovators Award are:
The finalists were selected by a high-level jury consisting of independent experts from business, venture capital, entrepreneurship and academia. 47 applications were submitted from across the EU and the countries associated to Horizon 2020, the EU's funding programme for research and innovation, which provides the prize money for the Women Innovators award. The companies created by the contestants showcase innovations in a wide range of sectors, with life science and ICT being the most dominant ones. The twelve finalists were presented at the UNConvention event in Brussels.
Following the success of its first three editions in 2011, 2014 and 2016, applications to the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2017 closed in November 2016. Three cash prizes of €100,000, €50,000 and €30,000 will be awarded in the main Women Innovators category and one prize of €20,000 will be awarded to the first ever winner of the Rising Innovator Award. The winners will be announced on 8 March 2017 at the European Parliament in Brussels as part of the celebrations for International Women's Day.
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.