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Parkinson’s researcher gets top women entrepreneur award as innovators gather

Innovation Convention 2014.
Innovation Convention 2014.

A researcher who discovered variations in a gene involved in Parkinson’s disease received the first prize at an award for women innovators, as entrepreneurs, scientists and policymakers gathered in Brussels for the EU’s Innovation Convention 2014.

Dr Saskia Biskup, co-founder of CeGaT GmbH, won the top award at the EU Prize for Women Innovators for female scientists who have received EU research funding and have gone on to set up their own companies.

The second prize went to Dutch researcher Dr Laura van 't Veer, who co-founded cancer testing firm Agendia NV, and the third prize went to Dr Ana Maiques from Spain, who founded research and development services firm Starlab.

‘I want to congratulate these three outstanding scientists and entrepreneurs on their achievements,’ European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said. ‘They are a great example to women everywhere of the exciting options open to them.’

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said: ‘Despite some advances in recent years, women in research and entrepreneurship remain a minority. This is a waste of talent that we cannot afford. We have to foster gender equality and also raise the profile of successful women innovators. This prize does exactly that.’

Dr Biskup received the EUR 100 000 top prize from President Barroso during the opening ceremony of the EU’s Innovation Convention 2014, an event which brings together over 2 000 people including researchers, entrepreneurs and policymakers from across Europe to share ideas on stimulating innovation.

‘We have to foster gender equality and also raise the profile of successful women innovators.’

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science

Stimulating innovation

It follows on from the first Innovation Convention event organised in 2011, and is part of the EU’s strategy to stimulate research and entrepreneurship by linking up innovative people so they can network and exchange new ideas.

The event includes presentations from various innovation actors, such as Xavier Damman, the co-founder of online news site Storify, Dr Mae C. Jemison, former astronaut, and Prof. Serge Haroche, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Dr Saskia Biskup, winner of the European Women Innovators AwardDr Saskia Biskup, winner of the European Women Innovators Award.‘Our hope is that new connections and new ideas are generated at the Convention, creating new value for society,’ said Peter Dröll, acting director at the Directorate-General for Research & Innovation.

‘In addition, we hope – and looking at the rich list of superb speakers I am actually sure – that we will gain new and important insights into what policy can and what it should not do to make Europe more attractive for innovators.’

As well as presentations, there is a series of interactive demonstrations showing technology that has resulted from EU-funded research. 

Have a look at the full programme for details.

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