After over 18 months of planning and three digital events, the first-ever, in-person Brain Innovation Days, led by the European Brain Council, took place on 12-13 October in Brussels, Belgium.
Postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two-day event was able to go ahead this year under strict sanitary measures and was a welcome reunion for the wider brain community, bringing together scientists/researchers, clinicians, industry, patients and patient representatives, policymakers, start-ups and many others working and interested in the brain space.
The event kicked off with a Welcome Reception on the Monday, 11 October, leading into a packed programme across two days filled with community application-led Breakout and Agora Sessions, Innovation Showcases, Business Panels and a policy-driven European Brain Summit, the latter organised in partnership with EBRAINS in conjunction to the Brain Innovation Days and the Human Brain Project Summit.
Day 1 – 12 October 2021
The Brain Innovation Days officially launched with a welcome from EBC President, Prof. Monica Di Luca, who reiterated the aims of the Brain Innovation Days to create synergies and showcase the importance of innovation in the brain space.
The morning continued with a series of Brain Talks – concise, inspiring and thought-provoking presentations from speakers leading cutting-edge research or activities supporting innovation in brain science – including addresses by Prof Lars Edvinsson (2020 Brain Prize Winner), Dr Viktor Jirsa (Director of the Inserm Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes), Dr Makarand Bagul (Cannabinoid Education 360), Simon Kohl (Kop science+ consulting) and Prof Marcello Massimini (University of Milan), on topics ranging from new frontiers in migraine research, virtual epilepsy treatment cannabis in medicine, optical brain imaging and detecting consciousness in unresponsive patients. All abstracts are still available here and recordings of the Brain Talks will be available to the wider public soon.
With a full afternoon of policy discussion ahead, the Brain Talks were only accompanied by a small number of parallel sessions: Agora Sessions and Innovation Showcases focused around teleneurorehabilitation, gender issues in neurology, smart insoles to improve gait and mobility in people with neurodegenerative conditions, a novel therapeutic target for Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease and bridging gaps in brain innovation; and two How-To Sessions on Entrepreneurship in Healthcare: from start-up to corporate (led by Brain Innovation Days Knowledge Partners, BlueHealth Innovation Centre) and How to Finance your Startup – Lessons from 10 years investing and coaching start-ups (led by Brain Innovation Days Knowledge Partners, Imec.istart).
After lunch, the European Brain Summit began, featuring representatives of the highest levels of research policy and brain science. Leading researchers and policy makers presented their vision of the future of European brain research in the context of the European Health Union and highlighted innovative solutions and latest technological advancements. Panels of renowned scientists and different societal stakeholders discussed worldwide collaboration and partnerships, technology and medical innovation, patient involvement, and the European Health Data space. A full event report of the Summit can be read here.