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Commission announces winners of 2016 EU Prize for Women Innovators

Brussels, 10 March 2016

The three winners of the 2016 EU Prize for Women Innovators have been announced.

The winners, from Ireland, Finland and Portugal, have all received EU research and innovation funding at some point in their careers, and recently founded or co-founded a successful company based on their innovative ideas.

The winners are:

  1.  Dr. Susana Sargento, co-founder of Veniam in Portugal, turns vehicles into Wi-Fi hotspots and builds city-scale vehicular networks that collect terabytes of urban data.
  2. Prof. Sirpa Jalkanen, co-founder of BioTie Therapies in Finland, discovered unique targets for drug development for harmful inflammations and cancer treatment.
  3. Dr. Sarah Bourke, co-founder of Skytek in Ireland, develops software for the International Space Station and received innovation awards from NASA.
 The three winners received their prizes from Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation during a Citizens’ Dialogue event in Brussels on the importance of women in Business and Research.

Commissioner Moedas said: “I want to congratulate the three winners of the 2016 EU Prize for Women Innovators on their outstanding achievements. Europe needs to support more innovators like them: the people who combine scientific excellence with a head for business; the people who turn their research into employment opportunities and their ideas into positive impacts for our society and our economy.”

The winners received prizes of €100,000, €50,000 and €30,000 respectively. They were chosen by an independent jury from a total of 64 applications.

To learn more about the EU Prize for Women Innovators and the participants in this year’s prize:


The 2016 EU Prize for Women Innovators is the largest prize of its kind worldwide, and follows previous editions in 2011 and 2014. The Prize aims to raise public awareness of the need for more innovation and more female entrepreneurs, and to highlight the achievements of the most successful women innovators.

Women are underrepresented in terms of creating innovative enterprises – only 29% of entrepreneurs in the EU are women.

Although the proportion of female researchers in Europe is increasing, women are still under-represented in scientific disciplines and careers. The latest ‘She Figures‘ statistics published by the European Commission on the occasion of the award ceremony show that women are gaining ground in science but their progress is still slow and uneven. Women PhD graduates rose from 43% in 2004 to 47% in 2014.

Women are also making progress as heads of higher education institutions, rising from 16% to 20%. However, the proportion of women researchers in general remains stable and the share of female professors has only slightly increased to 20.9%. The ‘She Figures’ publication is the main source of Pan-European comparable statistics on the state of gender equality in research and innovation.


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