A New Prize to Encourage Female Entrepreneurs

© 2014 EPFL

© 2014 EPFL

The Isabelle Musy Prize has been awarded to the genetic engineering researcher Verónica Ponce de León. Worth 50,000 Swiss francs, the award aims to support the creation of start-ups in French-speaking western Switzerland. “Innovation Therapeutics” will be particularly focused on cell therapy for eyes.

“Innovation Therapeutics” is the name of the company created by Verónica Ponce de León and her team within the Laboratory of Gene Therapy and Stem Cell Biology at the Jules-Gonin Eye Hospital in Lausanne. They are developing models of eye cells for ophthalmological drugs as well as for cell therapy. “Our long-term goal is to correct mutations that cause incurable diseases by using genetic engineering on retinocytes derived from the cells near stem cells that would then be injected into the patient’s eye,” said the Isabelle Musy Prize winner. The technology used by Innovation Therapeutics is part of a veritable revolution in the field of genetic engineering.

Awarded for the first time this year at EPFL, the Isabelle Musy Prize for Female Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology bears the name of its founder. This genuinely passionate patron is a retired professor who wishes to encourage female entrepreneurs.

“I remember from my years of teaching that I hung around many brilliant students and was astonished when later I learned that at the height of their talent, they had not pursued a career,” says Isabelle Musy. This award not only supports the creation of science and high-tech start-ups, but above all gives a boost to entrepreneurial women in this field.

A total of nineteen applications were submitted to a panel of experts. The four finalists had to defend their project to a jury of Claude Nicollier, Adrienne Corboud Fumagalli of EPFL’s Vice-Presidency for Innovation, Equal Opportunities Delegate Farnaz Moser, as well as the creator of the prize, Isabelle Musy.