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Biotech CEOs advise EU on breakthrough innovations

Ingmar Hoerr, CEO of CureVac, says it's important to overcome risk aversion in Europe. © CureVac

Two biotech CEOs have been selected by the European Commission for the High Level Group. The EU think tank will provide strategic input to Horizon 2020 and a €2.5bn fund to support innovation by 2020 in order to boost disruptive technologies and to address gaps in in the current innovation support landscape. 

At the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos, EU Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas presented the  15 high-ranking members, who had been selected from 469 top innovators. The experts’ task will be to advise the Commission on how to strengthen support for breakthrough, market-creating innovation in Horizon 2020 and the Commission’s future innovation programme to be led by a newly-created European Research Council (EIC) from 2021. “The EU spends €10bn per year for innovation, spurring the creation of vaccines, green energy and others. Some projects fail”, said Commissionor Moedas. “It is all about how you create a culture of innovation, how do you arrive at the most brilliant innovations, which in turn would create jobs.”

Ingmar Hoerr, CEO of mRNA vaccine and cancer immunotherapy specialist CureVac, and Marjolein Helder, founder and CEO of Plant-e, which works to generate plant-derived electricity, will be the voice for the European biotech sector. “Private investors and funds in Europe need to allocate much more investments to innovation,” Hoerr told European Biotechnology. He added that currently “everybody tends to talk about risks first. Instead, let’s first talk about the huge opportunities we generate when we launch disruptive innovations to solve our global challenges, such as cancer, climate change or food shortage.”

Moedas said the experts, who will start work in March 2017, will be instrumental “in designing a new approach to supporting innovation under the working title of a European Innovation Council,” in line with the recent Commission Communication “Europe's next leaders: the Start-up and Scale-up Initiative”. The High Level Group of Innovators brings together leading personalities from across Europe with a wide range of expertise in business innovation, including entrepreneurs, CEOs, investors and other major players in the innovation ecosystem.

  • Nicklas Bergman, serial entrepreneur, deep tech investor and futurist
  • Martin Bruncko, Founder and Managing Partner of Steam Capital
  • Paddy Cosgrave, Founder and CEO of Web Summit and f.ounders
  • Gráinne Dwyer, CEO of Ludgate Hub
  • Hermann Maria Hauser, Entrepreneur, Co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners
  • Marjolein Helder, Founder and CEO of Plant-e, a company developing products with which electricity is generated with living plants
  • Taavet Hinrikus, Co-Founder and CEO of TransferWise
  • Ingmar Hoerr, Co-Founder and CEO of CureVac, Cancer Immunotherapy and mRNA-based vaccines
  • Bindi Karia, Start-up expert and advisor
  • Jana Kolar, CEO of CERIC-ERIC and governing board member of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT)
  • Carlos Oliveira, Entrepreneur, CEO of ebankIT, President of InvestBraga and Startup Braga, Non-Executive Director of Pathena
  • Jim Hagemann Snabe, Board of Trustees Member, World Economic Forum, and Adjunct Professor at Copenhagen Business School
  • Kinga Stanisławska, Managing Partner and Founder of Experior Venture Fund
  • Constantijn Van Oranje-Nassau, Special Envoy StartupDelta
  • Roxanne Varza, CEO of Station F