The climate crisis, the emergence of new pathogens, antimicrobial resistance, and the increasing mobility of people around the globe are some of the hazards to global health. To tackle these and other critical challenges, the sector needs to equip itself not only with knowledge but also with talent, creativity, courage, teamwork, and an innovative mindset. With this in mind, the ENERGHY (Energising Global Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship) postgraduate course kicked off in 2020. After its third edition, which ended last July, a total of 85 professionals have been successfully trained.
"ENERGHY has done it again, it has awakened the entrepreneurial spirit of a young, highly talented generation to work together for health equity solutions, and this is impressive and encouraging", says Marina Espriu, director of the course and expert in Knowledge and Technology Transfer at ISGlobal.
A community of global innovators
Based on the fact that health technology is one of the booming business sectors and that most technology-based entrepreneurs start their businesses without business-related knowledge and skills, ENERGHY offers tools, knowledge, and expertise so that participants end up designing equitable, innovative, and sustainable start-ups and business models that contribute to global wellbeing, in full alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The third edition brought together 20 young entrepreneurs from 14 different countries (42% from Europe, 29% from Asia, and 29% from Africa). In terms of the participants' educational background, 57% had a master's degree, 14% were studying for a master's degree, 10% had a bachelor’s degree and the remaining 5% were studying for a doctorate. In terms of employment, 52% worked in academic or research institutions, 24% in NGOs, 10% in start-ups, and 10% in the health sector.
During this pre-acceleration program, participants were organized into four teams to tackle two global health challenges posed by two of the organizing institutions and propose an innovative and creative business model. On the one hand, Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona Hospital urged participants to find a solution to the "Lack of awareness, early diagnosis, and treatment of oral diseases in low and middle-income countries". On the other hand, Médecins Sans Frontières posed a challenge related to "Menstrual hygiene in displaced women".
Creativity and innovation to address global health challenges
“The two challenges have really inspired how to use innovation to design with others impactful solutions,” explains Natalie Walsh, Director of Entrepreneurship Development at the National University of Ireland in Galway. For Caroline Saï, director of Angels Santé, Business Angels in Health, “the enthusiasm of these future entrepreneurs to learn and improve their business case is inspiring”.
During the exercise, the four teams were mentored and accompanied by about 30 entrepreneurs and technology transfer experts from around the world. A nine-member international jury, including representatives of EIT Health —the European funder— assessed the outcome and chose a winning group for each challenge. The award gives access to the ENERGHY Joint Acceleration Program of NUI-Galway and StartUB!, which includes 10 hours of mentoring from business and med-tech experts to develop the project.
"Any venture is more likely to succeed if it is sustainable; there are many possible collaborations to explore," highlights Julio Alonso, a participant in ENERGHY 2022, as one of the lessons learned. For Asem Al-btoush, who also participated in this third edition, "it has been very exciting to work on real-world challenges with different online platforms".
Don’t miss the opportunity to become an #ENERGHY Challenger!— ISGlobal (@ISGLOBALorg) April 12, 2022
✅ Bring your talent and creativity
✅ Take on a #GlobalHealth challenge
✅ Connect with entrepreneurs and tech transfer experts
✅ Make #InnovationForEveryone a reality!
➡️ https://t.co/O6Pe9v4IQb pic.twitter.com/VZ3EfHiSRd
"We have created a community of global innovators. It is exciting to see how they bring together talent and work as a team on projects that will make a difference in low-resource environments," adds Marina Espriu.
The third edition of ENERGHY has been possible thanks to the organisation by the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway), the University of Barcelona, Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona Hospital, Médecins Sans Frontières, Angels Santé and Universal Doctor, with the leadership of ISGlobal and the support of EIT Health.