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The Vesalius Innovation Award from Karger Publishers

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The Vesalius Innovation Award from Karger Publishers - Funder Perspective with Marc Schindelhoz, Head of Strategy, Innovation & Ventures

Preface: We spoke with Marc Schindelhoz, Head of Strategy, Innovation & Ventures at Karger Publishers about the Vesalius Innovation Award. The call for this year is open and applications close on September 2, 2024.

When and how did the VIA Award get started?

The first official launch of the Vesalius Innovation Award was in 2020 although the origin of the idea traces back to 2018/2019 when Daniel Ebneter, our CEO, and I were observing other innovation awards and even participated in one. We were inspired by how impactful conversations between start-ups and market-relevant players can be and Daniel was certain that we needed to create something in the STM space as well.

How has the VIA award program evolved over the past few years?

One of the nicest things I have seen evolving over the years is the growing community and network. Everyone involved in such a huge undertaking as creating an award from scratch will probably speak about how much hard work it is behind the scenes. Our team has done a fantastic job at building and maintaining a network of start-ups, sponsors, partners, jurors, and much more to create the experience the Vesalius Innovation Award offers today. It is brilliant to see that start-ups and or partners are still contacting us for ideas, new products, or services or to introduce someone whom they have met into the network or ask to be connected.

What is your responsibility in relation to the VIA Award?

In my role as project lead, I have the great honor and pleasure of being part of an extremely motivated and talented group of people who care deeply about the award and the value we can create for everyone involved through the connections and the network we build

What do you find most rewarding about working with the VIA Award?

It might sound a bit “cheesy” but since anything we do is a people business, I love to meet start-ups. I love the enthusiasm and bravery many of those young entrepreneurs display, trying to conquer the world while making it a better place with their solutions. I also love the interactions and the selection process with the Jury, there is so much knowledge and wisdom in one room, that I never leave without any new insight or lesson. Last but not least I love making all of these interactions possible, planning, sketching, and scheduling with the team..

What types of companies are encouraged to apply?

We are trying our best to highlight different angles of the research and publishing world every year, thus, this year’s award focus is on Science Communication. Now this could involve Artificial Intelligence, Education aspects, Information transfer between different audiences, new business models or research integrity. Everyone who is involved in communicating research in different forms and shapes.

What are the eligibility requirements for applying for the VIA Award?

Besides the above-mentioned main topic this year, we are targeting “early-stage” start-ups. We are looking for someone who can benefit from the feedback of the Jury / Market in shaping their product/service and the mentoring program that they will receive if they qualify for the final 5.

What are the benefits for the recipients of the VIA Award?

Besides the award money (1st price 15k, 2 x runner-ups with 5k each) it is all about the network and market exposure. They get feedback throughout the entire process and if a start-up makes it to the final 5, they additionally receive mentoring on a topic of their choosing (e.g. Marketing, Finances, New Markets) from our partner Start-up Academy. It is a great opportunity to talk and present firsthand to industry leaders, to promote and market a service, product or brand and to gain long-term connections with peers and even potential investors.

Share a VIA success story!

Being with the award since the beginning there are so many great big and small success stories behind the scenes and on stage, thus it is hard to choose from. For example we had NestedKnowldge, a start up that applied in the very first year, they did a good job pitching but their core offering prompted some additional feedback and advice from the Jury eventually they didn’t quite make it to the final. The year after they had taken everything to heart and reapplied to win 1st prize!

Similarly to Teraquiz, when they had learned about the award we were already mid-way but we managed to get them to the final event in London as a guest/observer. They had taken so much valuable feedback home from peers, visitors and representatives of the STM that they changed part of the offering and applied the year after and managed to win runner-up. Knowing how hard it is to survive as a start up I tip my hat to everyone embarking on that journey staying hungry to improve and have a positive impact, it is a thing that demands great respect.


Special thanks to Marc Schindelhoz, Head of Strategy, Innovation & Ventures at Karger Publishers for making the time to speak with us.

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