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Boosting digital health and innovation through entrepreneurial hubs

Salvatore Nigro, CEO JA Europe & Milena Stoycheva, CEO JA Bulgaria

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that it is not possible to have a successful #ECONOMY without good #HEALTHCARE. This is a wake-up call we all need to heed – it cannot be business as usual when the pandemic is over. In order to protect our people and economies against future public health threats it is crucial to improve the long-term #SUSTAINABILITY of our health systems. According to Mary Harney, we must promote #INNOVATION, and ensure that data and evidence are the basis of decision-making, to future proof our health systems and ensure their long-term sustainability.1

At Junior Achievement we know that fostering innovation must start at an early age, and #EDUCATION therefore plays a key role in ensuring that young generations of Europeans are equipped with the right skills to tackle future challenges. Entrepreneurship education at school is the best way to encourage innovative thinking and problem-solving from an early age. Based on the success of the Bulgarian pre-accelerator BEYOND, Junior Achievement is now embarking on a new collaborative project with Novartis in Europe to be piloted in Central and Eastern Europe, aimed at leveraging technology and “start-up” thinking in the medical field. By establishing a series of pre-accelerator hubs in digital health and innovation, the programme will generate a stronger ecosystem of innovators who will work to reimagine medicine as we know it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that it is possible to reorganize #HEALTH services (#TELEMEDICINE, home monitoring, home deliver, hospital capacity) and to improve #DATA and #DIGITAL (virtual education; EU registries) while making the health care systems more robust and sustainable.2 This is a unique opportunity for Europe to become a leader in data-driven healthcare systems, which should be seen as “an ecosystem that is open for private entrepreneurs who provide the tools that create value out the vast technological and data resources.”3

We call on the European Commission to support this multi-stakeholder approach and to create strong collaboration between Directorates in charge of innovation, research, education and entrepreneurship on the one hand, and health care and medical sector on the other. In particular, it is important to consider how our work on entrepreneurial hubs in the health care sector can be beneficial in the further developments of the Digital Education Action Plan as well as the European Education Area 2025.

In this process, the industry is ready to embrace its role in the collaboration as employers, innovators and experts. Furthermore, representatives of European industry as global players support the EU in its efforts to lead on #RESEARCH and #INNOVATION.

Healthcare is a complex sector that involves a variety of stakeholders from different industries and public authorities. Countries need coordinated, European support to achieve efficient, sustainable, people-centered healthcare systems based on data and technology.

Our joint objective should be to support digital health and innovation ecosystems across Europe in order to co-create and boost innovative health solutions along the patient journey and thus build and reinforce cross-sectorial healthcare value chains.

The Junior Achievement pilot project creating entrepreneurial hubs for the health sector is a first step in achieving these ambitious goals. Together with all relevant stakeholders, we aim to design the next steps in the process!


1 Mary Harney (June 2020)
2 Nathalie Moll, EFPIA, at the launch of the European Parliament Challenge Cancer Intergroup (July 2020)
3 Roberto Viola (June 2018)
Category : Policy & Research Posted : 22 October 2020 16:27 UTC
About the Author
Salvatore Nigro, CEO JA Europe & Milena Stoycheva, CEO JA Bulgaria

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