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Brussels, 5 December 2011

President Barroso and Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn launch the first Innovation Convention in Brussels

The first ever Innovation Convention, convened by European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, has been officially opened this afternoon by European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso. Both of them, along with Vice President Antonio Tajani, presented the first EU Women Innovators Prize. Also today, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn and EIB President Maystadt have signed an agreement on the Risk Sharing Finance Facility, a joint initiative of the European Commission and the EIB to support higher risk and reward investment in research and innovation. Finally, President Barroso used this occasion to announce the name of the European Commission's first Chief Scientific Advisor.

The over arching aim of this Convention is to drive the message that innovation is the key to sustained growth and job creation, by bridging the gap between good ideas and bringing products to market. Investment in research and innovation is necessary to secure European competitiveness and achieve the scientific breakthroughs that will help tackle some of the most important societal challenges. Developing a proper innovation environment is a central component of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Europe has to capitalise on its brightest and most innovative ideas. That is what Innovation Union is all about; that is what Horizon 2020 is designed to ensure; and that is what this Innovation Convention inspires us all to do".

The Convention takes place over two days in Brussels and has over 1,200 delegates in attendance. The Innovation Convention brings together some of the best and the brightest people from across all sectors involved in research and innovation, including representatives from innovative multinational companies including Eric Schmidt from Google, Andrew Witty from GSK, and Jean-Paul Agon from L'Oreal. There are policy makers including President Jose Manuel Barroso, Margaret Chan of the WHO, and EIB President Phillipe Maystadt. We have people like author Richard Dawkins, former astronaut and French minister Claudie Hagniere, CEO of GetJar Ilja Laurs, Nobel Prize winner Andre Geim, and many many more all participating in various debates. This major event also features an exhibition of innovative EU-funded research projects as well as an area dedicated to career opportunities and advice for researchers on key innovation issues such as patents, IPR and venture capital.

Agreement on the Risk Sharing Finance Facility

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group launch a new guarantee facility for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them access finance from banks. This builds on the success of the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), launched in 2007, that has so far helped 75 companies benefit from over €7 billion in EIB loans to projects enhancing European growth and competitiveness. The new risk-sharing instrument for SMEs will be managed by the European Investment Fund (EIF). In addition, the EIB and the European Commission are to provide extra resources for research infrastructures.

More info: IP/11/1505

Commission's Chief Scientific Advisor

Anne Glover was appointed the Commission's first Chief Scientific Advisor. Professor Glover will provide high-level and independent scientific advice throughout all stages of policy development and delivery. The Chief Scientific Advisor will provide advice directly to the President Barroso, and will give regular updates on major scientific and technological developments.

More info: IP/11/1497

EU Women Innovators Prize

The awards went to three innovative women scientists:

First prize (EUR 100 000): Dr. Gitte Neubauer (Germany), Co-founder CELLZOME, Vice-President for Research Operations. Her groundbreaking research into chemo-proteomics is driving her company’s work on new and better targeted drugs against inflammatory diseases and cancer.

Second prize (EUR 50 000): Fabienne Hermitte (France), Co-founder IPSOGEN, Senior director, Research and Development – Regulatory Affairs. Her work made her company a pioneer in personalised healthcare diagnostics, which allow more individualised treatments for cancer patients

Third prize (EUR 25 000): Ilaria Rosso (Italy), Co-founder ELECTRO POWER SYSTEMS, Vice-President of IP Policy and Public Funding Programs Her company developed the first self-recharging hydrogen fuel cell system for backup power - a clean, renewable alternative to lead-acid batteries and diesel generators.

The EU Women Innovators Prize celebrates women who have combined their passion for science with a head for business to set up innovative enterprises. It showcases the achievements of scientists who have at some point of their careers benefited from EU funding, via the European Commission Framework Programmes for research (FP), or the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP), and who successfully brought their ideas to the market. A significant number (11.5%) of the women who applied for the award have established their enterprise in a different country than their origin, a positive message for a trend towards cross border research and entrepreneurship.

For further information:

Innovation Convention:

Innovation Union website:

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn's website:

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