InnoStars Innovation Index

Developed by EIT Health, Europe’s leading healthcare innovation network, the InnoStars Innovation Index is a first-of-its kind assessment of the selected healthcare innovation ecosystems in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe.

Anyone interested in healthcare innovation in the region, but especially stakeholders of an innovation ecosystem (startups, incubators etc.)

To share best practices and learn from each other while raising their countries’ profiles across Europe and beyond with the help of EIT Health InnoStars.

The study analyses ten countries from the region, namely Poland, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Czechia, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Latvia, along with Israel. Israel an outreach location of the EIT Community and is used as a benchmark country due to its success as a global leader in healthcare innovation.

”During the preparation of the study, we found a correlation between the number of questionnaire respondents and most of the performance indicators, which suggests that collaboration is an essential factor in the success of ecosystems. This finding is in line with the philosophy of EIT Health, which maintains that no one can innovate alone.”
– Balázs Fürjes
InnoStars Director, EIT Health InnoStars

How to read the report


Find the country you are
interested in


Learn about best practises and EIT
Health’s opportunities to improve
your innovation ecosystem

Innovation Maturity Model


  • Random sources
  • Public sector introduced
    matching programs or
  • The second iteration of
    governmental funding
  • Foreign funds establish
  • Local and foreign funding
    sources present and fairly
  • New forms of funding
    established (e,g, crowd-
    funding, growth funds...)
  • Diverse funding
    landscape, smart money &
    specialized VC (incl social
    impact VC)

  • Entrepreneurial spirit is
    not supported or fostered
  • Buzz about
    entrepreneurial lifestyle
  • Programs for first-time
    entrepreneurs established
  • A fair amount of different start-
    up support mechanisms, not
    only first-timers
  • Start-up founders are risk-
  • Develop startup culture
    strong entrepreneurial drive
  •  Among wider population
  • Experienced, serial
  • Easy access to starting up
    a company

  • Plans, but does not act yet
  • Creates the first
    iteration of ecosystem
    development measures
  • Creates the next generation
    of ecosystem support
  • Government applies start up- friendly policies
  • Reducing bureaucracy and
    injecting innovation and tech
    to public organizations
  • Programs initiated in
    niche sectors
  • Developing peripheries

  •  People import knowledge
    from other ecosystems
    • More structured knowhow
  • More structured knowhow
    exchange Infrastructure
    set forth for knowledge
  • Community building gets more structured
  • More access to experienced
  • Serial entrepreneurs start
  • Knowledge databases,
    maps and know-how created
    Widely available mentorship
  • Highly transparent
    ecosystem Best practices
    and experts available

  • Close- knit, small com-
  • Bottom-up initiatives to
    create communities and exchange
  • First acceleration and co-
    working models
  • R&D centers and multinational
    corporates innovation activities
  • Growing networking between
    different stakeholders
  • Universities start playing a
    more vivid role in the ecosystem
  • Different stakeholders
    actively seek connection to
    the ecosystem
  • Specialized communities,
    saturated mentorship and
    innovation landscape
  • Different stakeholders
    connected to one, strong

More respondents, stonger ecosystem, higher innovation ability

More respondents - EIT Health community more engaged

Fewer respondents - EIT Health community less engaged

No Data Found


Soft Indicators' score

  • Network
  • Know-How
  • Government
  • Talent Pipeline
  • Funding


Compare countries check your region

Select any 3 countries to compare their hard indicators

Total External Funding Raised:
Market Entry Start-ups:
Total External Grants Raised:
186 FTE



Collaboration is the reason for the existence of both EIT Health and the communities we nurture.
We are more than the sum of all parts; together, we can create a meaningful impact, such as
regional competitiveness and job creation.


We are all members of a trusted community who enjoy a culture of honesty, psychological safety
and mutual respect. Trust is essential and is the foundation for collaboration. It creates social
capital where people move beyond transactional one-to-one relationships and invest in the
community (“give first”).


Community building is a people-business where the needs of stakeholders, start-ups and
innovators are in focus (people-centricity). Belonging, caring, inclusiveness and support are
the basis of collaboration and innovation. They require extra effort from the stakeholder
representatives to stretch the organisational goals and obtain the necessary mandate to utilise
institutional capabilities.

Personal and collective growth

People join the innovation ecosystems to grow personally and professionally. They need to grow
their mindset’s complexity in order to participate efficiently at the higher levels of the Maturity
Model. The ecosystems we nurture are learning communities whose knowledge is a decisive
edge in global competition.


The long-term perspective and positive impact on the innovation ecosystems, economy,
healthcare and society give us meaning (“Healthy living and active ageing”). Safeguarding
the well-being of our stakeholders keeps us engaged in the long run. Ecosystems need to reach
a tipping point where stakeholders experience a return on their time and money invested, which
leads to ever-increasing commitment and participation.

EIT Health is uniquely positioned in terms of its assets and capabilities to boost healthcare innovation ecosystems in the European
Union and, specifically, in the countries of the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme. Its core values help all stakeholders to move higher up in
the Maturity model.


Our hypothesis in this study is that the ecosystems where the level of collaboration between the actors is higher are performing better. To understand each ecosystem’s maturity level, we have used the Innovation Ecosystem Maturity Model by Monika Rozalska-Lilo*, which classifies maturity on a scale from 1-5. The final scoring was done by an EIT Health expert panel based on hard quantitative indicators, soft indicators from questionnaire responses, and in-depth interview results. In addition, we also analysed the relationship between measurable performance and the perceived maturity level of the observed innovation ecosystems.

In the analysis, EIT Health start-up programme-specific Hard Indicators were used, and collected by EIT Health to measure the performance of the observed (EIT Health programme participant) start-up ecosystems. The aim was to analyse how the selected country’s healthcare start-up ecosystems utilised these programmes and what measurable outcomes had been achieved. It is essential to highlight that the performance indicators collected are limited to the EIT Health start-up programme participants and do not cover the whole country’s innovation or start-up ecosystems. An untapped and unique quantitative data set was collected from different EIT Hubs. The following indicators were used:

  • Last valuation of start-ups (valuation) – the accumulated value in EUR of the measured start-ups (limited data available)
  • External funding raised by start-ups supported – the accumulated external funding raised by the start-ups
  • Market-entry start-ups – the percentage of measured start-ups already on the market selling their technology and solutions
  • Number of FTEs employed (employment): the cumulative number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employed by the measured start-ups
  • External grants raised – external (non-EIT) governmental grants obtained by the measured start-ups

This approach helps to measure the success of the specific programmes in contrast with collecting general statistical data describing the observed countries’ overall social and economic environment rather than the specific programme outcomes. The portfolio of start-ups is based on participation in EIT Health acceleration programmes in 2016-2021, while Hard Indicators
relates to the years 2014-2022. (Source: EIT Health Dealroom database).

An online questionnaire was used to measure the perceived innovation ecosystem maturity level with Soft Indicators. More than 200 responses from diverse innovation ecosystem players were received. Participants were asked to rank their innovation ecosystem maturity on a scale of 1-5 using the following dimensions:

  • Money
  • People
  • Government
  • Know-how
  • Network

More than 40 key innovation ecosystem players, with representatives from start-ups through academia to corporates, were interviewed, and they shared their views regarding the maturity of the ecosystems they represent. The key findings from the interviews were considered in the final ecosystem classification and in the conclusions. 

Sword Health is a Portuguese / US start-up with a market valuation of USD 1.8B. The SWORD Health team has benefited from EIT Health accelerator programmes, including Go Global 2018, which helped them to expand their growth globally. Sword Health is excluded from the Hard Indicators as a unique one-off item that would hide the statistical tendencies. This example shows that the EIT Health community in Portugal is an environment that could contribute to creating a Unicorn.

Israel is part of the comparison as a benchmark of an expert-level world-class innovation ecosystem. EIT HUB Israel’s local presence and proven results offer a unique opportunity for the EIT Health community to learn about the best practices of a globally-leading ecosystem, and have direct access to its key players.

EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) covers the countries selected for the survey. This programme was introduced in 2014 to advance innovation performance, especially in countries and regions with moderate or modest scores defined by the European Innovation Scoreboard. Those countries chosen from the RIS programme were those where EIT Health has the most solid presence, and where sufficient data is available.