Europe urgently needs more innovators to stay competitive in the coming decades and to spur economic growth. The large number of well-educated women researchers who, for various reasons, including lack of awareness, do not consider entrepreneurship as an option, represents a tremendous untapped pool of innovation.
Awards have a strong potential to drive innovation through the recognition of achievements and the promotion of role models. Therefore, the European Commission created in 2011 a Prize for Women Innovators to increase public awareness of this issue and to encourage women to exploit the commercial and business opportunities offered by their research projects and become entrepreneurs. After the success of the forerunners of the competition in 2011 and 2014, the Commission intends to continue its drive to spotlight women researchers who have brought outstanding innovations to the market. The prizes will boost the public awareness of the, potential, importance and contribution of women researchers to entrepreneurship and will encourage entrepreneurial women to become innovators. Although women are more and more active in research, there are still too few women creating innovative enterprises. This represents an untapped potential for Europe which needs all resources to remain competitive and find solutions to our societal challenges. The prizes will therefore help to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.
The Commission plans to award up to three "EU Prize for Women Innovators 2016" following a European-wide contest. The prizes are addressed to women who have founded or co-founded a company and who themselves or their company have benefitted from EU funding related to Research and Innovation. The prizes will not reward research or innovation proposed for the future, but only achievements that have been already obtained by the candidate
The contest will target women who have benefited from EU research and innovation programmes and who have combined their scientific excellence with an aptitude for business in setting up innovative enterprises. Entries will have to clearly state the involvement of the contestants in the research and innovation activities and the potential of their product or service to access the market, also highlighting the relevant economic and societal impact.