• Posted 10-Jan-2022

Eye and vision care innovators to receive EUR 3 million from EIT Health

Following the 2021 Wild Card programme, EIT Health has chosen two innovator teams, PeriVision from Switzerland, and INVENTION from Sweden, to receive further support over the next two years.

It will provide the newly formed teams with expert mentoring and coaching, and access to its vast network across Europe. The teams will also receive funding of up to EUR 1.5 million each.

Eye and vision care is both an under-innovated and underinvested area of healthcare. The 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study ranked vision impairment, including blindness, as the third leading cause of years lived with disability. Globally, at least 2.2 billion people around the world have a vision impairment, from which, according to the World Health Organization, almost 50% could be prevented or cured.

Now in its fourth year, the Wild Card programme is part of our open innovation offering, which provides the opportunity for teams and individuals including innovators, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs from all walks of life to come together and solve pressing health challenges. Wild Card builds game-changing life science companies to break new ground in health by challenging the status quo in areas of high unmet need.

Beginning with challenges that we set, the annual Wild Card programme invites talented innovators from across Europe to respond with their ideas. Successful applicants start their journey with a deep dive; putting them through their paces on everything from team formation, critical thinking, business model validation and pitching. Finally, participants pitch their solution to a panel of industry leaders to secure funding to incorporate their company and bring their solution to market.

About the teams selected

PeriVision, a team of six, from Switzerland will focus on developing a novel artificial intelligence device that will allow for faster diagnosis of glaucoma.

INVENTION, a team of three from Sweden, will develop a natural therapeutic contact lens for the treatment of eye conditions such as myopia and dry eye.

2022 Wild Card challenges announced

Following the announcement of the 2021 selected teams, we have launched the focus of our Wild Card challenges for 2022: early detection of cancer and mental health. Topics which were selected in consultation with medical, corporate, and financial experts. Urgent action is needed to address the impact of COVID-19 on cancer and mental health, which were both exacerbated by the pandemic.

Modelling in several European countries predicts thousands of excess cancer deaths due to the disruption in diagnosis and care. Currently, 52% of people with cancer do not survive, however survival rates are generally higher when the disease is diagnosed and treated early. The Wild Card 2022 cancer challenge has been set to contribute towards innovation that can help to improve the detection of cancer earlier, when it can be more easily and successfully treated.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a considerable impact on the mental health of citizens, with a rise in the reporting of many mental health conditions. One in four people will be affected by a mental health or neurological condition in their lifetime, and around 450 million people are already suffering. The scale of the problem places such conditions among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. The Wild Card mental health challenge aims to find solutions that can facilitate access to care as well as improve the overall outcomes of those affected.

EIT Health Wild Card programme

Source: European Institute of Innovation & Technology (https://bit.ly/3Fcuoib)