By Mark Aguinaldo, EIT Climate-KIC Alumni Representative to the EIT Alumni Board
That's my takeaway from the workshop session at the EIT Health Alumni Summit held in Lodz, Poland earlier this month. Indeed, pursuing one's goals becomes manageable when you're receiving support from people you trust. Like in an air combat mission, the lead pilot needs a wing-person - someone to guard their blind-spots and ready to support their next, often daring, maneuvers.
Straight from the last EIT Alumni Board meeting for 2018, hosted at the EIT Health headquarters in Munich, I traveled to Lodz as an EIT Climate-KIC Alumni Community representative to the 1st EIT Health Alumni Summit. As an additional privilege of being part of the EIT Alumni network, I got the chance to attend the 3rd edition of the annual EIT Health Summit. Both events, hosted at the Medical University of Lodz, celebrated the tremendous efforts of EIT Health's network of best-in-class healthcare innnovators in delivering solutions to enable European citizens to live longer, healthier lives.
At the EIT Health Alumni Summit, Alumni & Communications Manager, Miriam Irle and EIT Impact Officer for Entrepreneurship and Business Creation, Laurent Roux, delivered the welcoming remarks. Miriam reported on the steady growth of the EIT Health Alumni community in terms of membership since their foundation in 2017. This gave them the impetus to intensify their efforts in providing job offers, mentoring activities and workshops to aspiring entrepreneurs, and developing an attractive platform for Startups to promote their businesses and touch base with potential partners within the healthcare sector and beyond.
Later that day, Miriam presented the EIT Health Alumni board members, and gave a recap of their activities in 2018 which focused on enhancing the wider EIT Health community by bringing into contact their members to the different initiatives of EIT Health Campus, Innovation Projects, and the business creation program EIT Health Accelerator, among others. She also announced the appointment of Miguel Amador as the incoming President of the EIT Health Alumni board.
On the other hand, Laurent introduced the EIT Alumni as a community for all graduates and alumni of the EIT Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs), which so far includes those of EIT Climate, EIT Digital, EIT Health, EIT InnoEnergy, and EIT Raw Materials, making it an interdisciplinary and multicultural network of networks where every member can learn from each other, and potentially form multi-skilled teams to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Summit participants also learned about the EIT Alumni flagship activities namely the EIT Alumni Startup Days, a hackathon style event held several times a year where participating alumni from different Innovation Communities challenge themselves to co-design solutions to societal challenges, and the EIT Alumni CONNECT which serves as an annual meetup event where members can partner and co-create on projects and collaborate on how to further strengthen the community.
Using tools from positive psychology, team-building activities were facilitated for the rest of the afternoon by Yunel Founder & Managing Partner Kerstin Humberg. The ice-breakers were so entertaining that in no time, us participants have created circles of friends. For instance, the speed dating style session gave us the opportunity to discover our partner's motivation and expectation to join the Summit. By the way, we definitely enjoyed the coffee breaks in between, a smörgåsbord of delish Polish snacks.
"At some point during the group exercises, Kerstin highlighted the significance of being a wing-person to one another. It resonated with me. Be it in building a startup and pursuing professional success or when it comes to our personal endeavors, we tend to be more and achieve more with trusted friends and allies around. Now imagine we belong to a community full of wing-people. We've got nothing to lose. Only endless possibilities."
For the next workshop, the participants were divided into groups and were tasked to brainstorm and visualize what constitutes a healthy city of the future. Oh what fun it is, knowing that we were in a safe place to discuss ideas, not to mention the diversity of talents in the room, we're able to come up with innovative ideas for our vision boards.
The Philippines was listed as the No. 1 country most affected by climate change in the 2015 Global Climate Risk Index. The most glaring health issues relating to extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change are the prevalence of Dengue, Thyphoid, Cholera, and Malaria epidemics during seasons of higher temperatures while more women are endangered and killed, even at a younger age, when impacted by natural hazards such as droughts, storms, and floods (Climate Change and the Philippines: Executive Brief, 2018).
Hopefully, as we collect and analyze climate and health data, more targeted developmental and humanitarian assistance can be extended to the most affected areas of the world. How much more if we do our part? Well, how about having wing-countries?