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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 7 March 2014

Women innovators prize 2014: Commission rewards winners from Germany, Netherlands and Spain

Ahead of the celebration of International Women's Day the European Commission announces the winners of the 2014 EU Prize for Women Innovators. They are Saskia Biskup (Germany, first prize), Laura van 't Veer (The Netherlands, second prize) and Ana Maiques (Spain, third prize). The competition celebrates women who have combined their scientific excellence with a head for business to set up innovative enterprises. It is open to women who have benefited from EU research and innovation programmes. The three winners will receive their prizes from the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso at the opening ceremony of the Innovation Convention 2014, Europe’s premier innovation event which will take place in Brussels on 10 and 11 March.

President Barroso said: "I want to congratulate these three outstanding scientists and entrepreneurs on their achievements. Their work is advancing knowledge, and making a contribution to economic growth and to quality of life in Europe. Just as importantly, 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."

The three winners were selected by an independent panel of experts from a total of 67 applications. The contest follows the success of a pilot edition in 2011 and is worth €100,000 for the first prize, €50,000 for the second and €25,000 for the third.

Although the proportion of female researchers in Europe is increasing, the under-representation of women in scientific disciplines and careers still persists. According to the "She Figures" report published by the European Commission, women represent only 33% of European researchers, 20% of full professors and 15.5% of heads of institutions in the Higher Education sector. Similar, on average, women make up 30% of the entrepreneurs in the EU, but often face greater difficulties than men in starting up businesses and in accessing finance and training,

Background on the prize winners

First prize winner Saskia Biskup (Germany) co-founded CeGaT GmbH in 2009. As a Human Geneticist, Research Scientist and Bioinfomatician, she positions herself at the interface of diagnostics, research and clinic. Saskia was the first to discover variations in the LRRK2 gene, a gene involved in Parkinson's disease. Her work revolves in the development of new biomarkers to enable early prediction of neurodegenerative diseases.

Second prize winner Laura van 't Veer (The Netherlands) is co-founder and Chief Research Officer at Agendia NV. Van t'Veer is a world renowned Molecular Biologist and inventor of MammaPrint, a diagnostic test that foretells the risk of recurrence for breast cancer patients. The use of MammaPrint by patients diagnosed today leads to a reduction of overtreatment by chemotherapy of up to 30%.

Third prize winner Ana Maiques (Spain) is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Starlab, a leading research and innovation company focused on the space and neuroscience industries based in Barcelona. Ana Maiques has positioned Starlab as a leading research company in Spain and was nominated in 2010 as one of the most influential entrepreneurships under age 40.

To learn more about the EU Prize for Women Innovators:

Contacts :

Michael Jennings (+32 2 296 33 88) Twitter: @ECSpokesScience

Inmaculada Martinez Garcia (+32 2 298 73 03)

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