Startup Europe Awards

The international webinar “Free COVID-19” celebrates the key role of innovation in times of pandemic

Webinar Free COVID-19

Institutional leaders of the United Nations attended “Free COVID-19” presenting the challenge of the pandemic in the tourism sector and developing countries such as Somalia.

International entrepreneurs with disruptive projects in E-health, blockchain and strategies applicable to different sectors shared their objectives of preventing the spread of the virus.

“Free COVID-19” defined the new financing and recovery sources to face the health and environmental crisis provided by the European Union offered to future projects.

Brussels, 21.12.2020 From the heart of Europe, the webinar “Free COVID-19” was organized by the Finnova Foundation, an entity promoting innovation in the fields of tourism, environment and youth employment. The aim was to present  new innovative low-cost technologies that combined help strategies to prevent the spread of the virus and thus regain the confidence of users of  the most affected areas and spaces such as coworking spaces, hospitals, public transport and tourist establishments.

The webinar managed to bring together more than 110 attendees and 12 international panelists committed to finding an answer to the current challenges posed by the health crisis, including the EIT Health Spain:  Spanish Innovation Hub of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. “We work on three main pillars: project accelerator, education and innovation” said Javier Vega, project coordinator of this institution supported by the European Union in the field of health and innovation. Furhermore, vocal institutions in the real estate sector and cleaning in Europe gave their inputs on the subject. Among them, the director of the European association Proptech and CEO of Interoffices Workero Dirk Paelinck, who mentioned “we must have a common competitive advantage in the real estate sector in the face of the current challenges of the pandemic and we are that bridge with the European institutions”. For its part, Isabel Yglesias, executive director of the European Cleaning and Facility Services Industry (EFCI), shared her view, “the needs of the sector have changed, this is an opportunity for innovation, more training and to highlight our professionalism”.

Members of the United Nations provided their vision in this crisis that damages international relations and cooperation. Juan Sebastian Marquez, Deputy Head of the UNODC in Somalia said: “the pandemic has impacted our humanitarian and development work, from the UNODC’s GMCP we have managed to collaborate with our national counterparts and provide the necessary support to the most affected countries”. In response to these obstacles, from this same institution, in the tourism sector, the director of innovation, education and investment, Natalia Bayona of the UNWTO, showed the formulas to overcome the alarming losses in her sector, “from the UNWTO we are sure of the role of innovation, education and digitalization to emerge resilient from the crisis and achieve sustainable tourism, so we are working to create a global ecosystem that empowers young workers in the sector”.

Among the affordable technologies that respond to the crisis, some were presented in the field of disinfection and sanitation. On the one hand, CD-Clean COVID-19 new disinfection formulation financed by the European Technological Institute of Urban Mobility, EIT Urban Mobility, through the project leader José Javier García Pardenilla, whose objective is “to launch a long-lasting antiseptic disinfectant on the market that will be applied to surfaces, preventing contagion through contact with them”. On the other hand, DuctFit presented by the entrepreneur Francisco Molina whose “alternative eliminates 99% of virus and bacteria present in the air by means of a system that generates H2O2 ions”.

Other projects focused on the tourism sector, whose users have lost confidence and workers are more exposed. The Hi + Card App of Tourism Data Driven Solutions (TDDS) was explained by the founder and director of the initiative Antonio Lopez as “an alternative approved by the UNWTO that consists of the storage of medical records through an application, supported by a blockchain based in Europe”. Through this system, tourists will always travel safely and with total control of their data. As for the employees of the sector concerns, Miguel Alborg of COVID A++ Vigilancia ACTIVA, who has been  working in the Spanish market for more than 30 years, proposes an economic strategy of surveillance, information of procedures and protection of the health of these workers with greater risk of contagion.


By nature, hospitals are establishments where sources of infection are concentrated if the necessary prevention and hygienic measures are not taken. Currently, millions of patients who are carriers of COVID-19 have lost their lives, but indirectly other patients have died when they go to these establishments for different reasons. In this sense, solutions such as Redzinc, presented by the Irish CEO and founder Donal Morris, brings to market “a real-time video call platform that connects patients with health personnel, avoiding contact and physical presence. In addition to this, the biggest challenge in the field of health is to save lives and to avoid mouth-to-mouth techniques that are not applicable today. Therefore, the startup AIRESS – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitator of which Agustín Argelich is a part, has designed and manufactured a low-cost, autonomous, portable and very easy to handle emergency ventilator for adults or children who need cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).


Once again, thanks to these online spaces, attendees had the opportunity to learn about the sources of financing and economic recovery, through the intervention of the director of European funds of the Finnova Foundation Juan Viesca. Among which are highlighted Horizon 2020, Green Deal and Next Generation, within the new Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and available to disruptive projects with public-private partnerships.


To close the event, the general director of the Finnova Foundation called on all projects interested in participating in the Healthcare Waste Startup Europe Accelerator, an open innovation initiative for ideas on the management of healthcare waste in hospitals. “In times of pandemic, entrepreneurship and sustainability must go hand in hand, therefore, we remind those entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas that the registration for our accelerathon is opened and our winner will receive an acceleration ticket valued at 10 thousand euros”, announced Juan Manuel Revuelta.


To watch the event again, click on the following link:

Banner of the webinar:

To register on the Healthcare Waste Startup Europe Accelerator, click on the following link:


About us:

The Finnova foundation:

European Foundation for the Financing of Innovation. Based in Brussels, Madrid, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Valencia, Andalusia and the Canary Islands, its objectives are to promote public-private cooperation through innovation to address social challenges such as employment, training, entrepreneurship, United Nations ODS, water, waste, fire fighting, the circular economy, etc.

Startup Europe Accelerator and Startup Europe Awards (SEUA):

It is initiative of the European Commission and Finnova Foundation, supported by the President of the European Parliament, the President of the Committee of the Regions, the Vice-President of the Economic and Social Committee and several members from the European Parliament. SEUA is supported by the StartUp Europe Accelerator of the Finnova Foundation.StartUp Europe Awards presents a prize methodology for startups at local, regional, national and European level that fosters the open innovation and the collaboration between the different actors of the European ecosystem, through the private-public partnership to support entrepreneurs. Besides, it creates a network of contacts that will inspire and provided visibility to all the local startups so that, by using this network, they can scale their services and products at a global level.