Health innovation: What does education have to do with it?

Ursula Mühle is Director of Education at EIT Health. As a higher education enthusiast with over a decade experience in science, research and education management of (international) multi-stakeholder formats at some of the world’s leading academic institutions, she is eager to actively contribute to the advancement of innovative research and education formats in a multi-national environment for laying out the seeds for sustainable innovations.

Ursula Mühle, Director of Education at EIT Health, discusses the need to teach healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship.

The EIT Health manifesto denotes that innovation flourishes when all sides of the knowledge triangle (academia, research and industry) come together in collaboration. However, when we refer to academia, the opportunity goes much deeper than the theoretical and academic work of universities to innovate in health. Innovation is now being embedded into many forms of higher education by organisations such as EIT Health. Additionally, we are extending the opportunity to individuals, regardless of background, for life-long learning opportunities, to ensure that we are all equipped to navigate and address the ever-changing needs of our society.

The famous Nelson Mandela quote states that “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. While health innovation may not have been at the forefront of his mind when he spoke these words, the concept behind this quote embodies completely how powerful education really can be for our sector.

As an organisation committed to improving lives in Europe, EIT Health strives to encapsulate this mission in all of our activities, and education is no exception. Education is crucial for health innovation. Historically, universities have been at the forefront of research, and education within science has focussed on teaching individuals to become expert in their relevant science – the theory, the research, but not the application. This leaves a gap.

Is entrepreneurship taught or learned?

Traditional education teaches our future generations to be academics, what we’re missing here is entrepreneurship. What if we could also teach university students to build ideas into viable businesses to allow their ability to stretch even further, to a place where they are delivering innovative solutions to the market that meet a clear health challenge? This would be the ideal outcome, as not only would such individuals be experts in science, but also in business or other forms of concrete applications. This is important as, while we’re strong in research and development in Europe, this doesn’t always translate into products and services, and this is because entrepreneurship is a specific set of skills.

Academics are not less able to compete as entrepreneurs than those with a business background; it simply takes the right tools, methodologies, network, and a change in mindset. Entrepreneurship can absolutely be learned with the right setting – a “learning by doing” element is crucial, and providing such opportunity is a key component of EIT Health’s education programmes. We provide programmes that teach and inspire learners how to innovate in their field, in order to increase the pool of those who are contributing towards health innovation – whether that’s teaching a scientist how to build a business plan, a patient how to best manage their condition, an established industry executive to build innovation into their organisation, or a citizen to contribute to research and development. 

What does EIT Health do to contribute in building innovation into education?

Education is part of the DNA of EIT Health, as it is a crucial component of the knowledge triangle. If we don’t have all of the parts working together, we are disadvantaged.

EIT Health has many educational programmes for practically every possible stakeholder. We want to ensure that innovation is embedded into education, but also that innovative education isn’t an exclusive club that is only attended by academics. Everyone can contribute towards a better future for health in Europe and that’s why our programmes reach students, industry professionals, patients, citizens and healthcare providers.

Read more about the programmes below:


Summer Schools – Raoul Haschke  



Degree programmes – Véronique Perdereau



Executive & Professional Training –Montserrat Codina



Fellowship Programmes – Daniel Mogefors



Citizen Engagement – Roel Kamerling