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Four million euros to research on innovative ideas in healthcare

Wild Card.

Wild Card.



Framed within the new Wild Card program, EIT Health, the largest European body on innovation in healthy living and active ageing, announced four million euros in funding to innovative initiatives to transform European healthcare and to alleviate the social and economic impact of progressive ageing in people.

The call for Wild Card Projects is open to entrepreneurs, academicians, researchers, engineers, business advisors, other experts and people who are motivated and creative from any country of the European Union. The candidates have to submit –individually or in small teams (maximum of three people), a groundbreaking idea to work on one of the two chosen challenged by the partners in EIT Health in this edition:

  • Smart Health, proposes creating new systems that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to interpret big data quickly, and allow healthcare professionals to improve patient care across the European Union.
  • Fight Back, challenges candidates to create innovative solutions to face the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, both regarding awareness and providing new processes and methodologies in the EU healthcare.

According to Jorge Fernández, director of Innovation at EIT Health and coordinator of the Wild Card program, “the Wild Card initiative seeks innovative and risky people with the ability to change the game rules and who have less conventional rules regarding future of the EU healthcare. We think there are people with these ideas right now, somewhere. Wild Car aims to bring them to light and provide them with economic, business and research support so as to make them progress”.

The chosen candidates will compete in a final tournament, to take place from April 16 to 20, in which their abilities, knowledge and potential will be assessed. Participants will be grouped in teams, and will create projects –on the basis of the profiles of the selected people- from which two will be selected to receive economic and business support.
The awarded initiatives have to be groundbreaking, with a high technological risk and a real commercial potential, and have to be focused on applied research to quickly tackle one of the two challenges proposed by EIT Health partners in this Wild Card call.

From October onwards, and during two years, the teams to develop these ideas will receive economic and business support. Each project will receive two million euros regarding economic support (a million per year maximum). At the same time, EIT Health partners, and more than twelve business bodies and Wild Card Incubators, will provide them with the facilities and the necessary advice to create a business plan that enables the teams to reach the general purpose of the project in a quick and tangible way.

The teams in Wild Card will have to choose which incubator and entity suits their needs best regarding experience, facilities and location.
“The Spanish EIT Health wants to be an important active in this initiative, offering different incubators around to host the selected teams”, says Marco Pugliese, EIT Health Spain director. “We are not only offering incubators, we are hoping to mobilise innovative ideas of our innovative ecosystem to have a distinguished presence in the call. We believe that we will be able to successfully participate in this both in Spain and Catalonia”, says the researcher.

UB Group, one of the distinguished groups in the program

The University of Barcelona (UB) ─EIT Health Spain partner─ will search for entrepreneur and innovative talent the UB Group generates, as well as in the Barcelona Entrepreneur Institute (BIE) and the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (FBG). It will also promote innovative initiatives that result from the research in these fields of knowledge as candidates for the Wild Card projects.

According to the vice-rector for Outreach and Internationalization of the UB, Àlex Aguilar, “the EIT Health Wild Card program constitutes an excellent initiative for entrepreneurs and researchers of our innovation ecosystem. I am convinced they will show many interesting projects in the field of health, and it is a great opportunity to give a push to the most promising ideas and allow them to reach the market”.

The Barcelona Science Park (PCB), head office of EIT Health Spain, is one of the European entities that were offered as Wild Card Incubator to provide the winners of this edition with the facilities and support services they need to turn their ideas into business plans that allow them to face the challenges of healthcare in Europe with a return on investment.

BIE and FBG –with headquarters at the PCB- will offer the teams the opportunity to access a deep and valuable mentorship during the whole project.

“This is a great opportunity for the entrepreneur ecosystem in Catalonia. There is not a program giving such a generous amount to support entrepreneurship, so I want to encourage all entrepreneurs who have projects in these two fields to submit their candidacies”, stressed Ignasi Belda, PCB general director.

On Monday, January 29, at 4.30 p.m., an informative session will take place in the PCB in which Marco Pugliese, EIT Health Spain director, will explain what Wild Card is about, and will answer all questions related to this call.

Applications to take part in the Wild Card Projects call have to be submitted to on the website. The deadline for the registration is March 9, 2018, at 5 p.m.

About EIT Health Spain

EIT Health Spain is the Spanish node of EIT Health, an international consortium made up of more than 140 leading companies, universities and research centers from fourteen European countries, with the support of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a EU body. With a budget of 2,000 million euros for the coming decade, the consortium –the most ambitious European initiative developed in the field of health with public funding- expects to generate around 340 business ideas and 165 start-ups, and involve a million students in their specific programs.

EIT Health Spain has partners from five regions –Catalonia, Madrid, Valencia, Andalusia and the Basque Country-, ten of which are core partners and nine associate partners that build up the three pillars of the innovation triangle: research, education and business creation.

The University of Barcelona is an EIT Health Spain core partner, and together with Biocat and the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), they participated in the coordination and writing of the proposal, and in the constitution process of the Spanish node, whose head office is in the PCB.


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