Finnova meets with European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel to talk about the StartUp Europe Awards, GIRLS4TECH LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0 challenge and firefighting FIREPOCTEP 

Finnova meets with European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel to talk about the StartUp Europe Awards, Girls4Tech Life Ecodigestion 2.0 challenge and firefighting Firepoctep

  • Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, welcomed Finnova at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels
  • Juanma Revuelta, CEO of Finnova, took advantage of the meeting to present open innovation tools to contribute to rural development
  • Examples to implement innovation in rural development were also explained at the meeting: GIRLS4TECH methodology, LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0 challenges and bioeconomics in firefighting

Brussels.Tuesday 21 February 2023 -  Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Culture, Education and Youth, received a Finnova delegation at Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. The Commissioner was accompanied by Isidro Laso, an expert from Gabriel's Cabinet, in a meeting in which open innovation tools to contribute to rural development were presented, the Startup Europe Awards were discussed and also European projects in which the Foundation is actively collaborating.

The meeting began with a presentation by Juanma Revuelta, CEO of Finnova, on the Startup Europe Awards (SEUA) open innovation methodology of public-private partnership, an initiative promoted by Mariya Gabriel herself since 2016 and implemented by the Finnova Foundation in collaboration with Startup Europe to identify disruptive and innovative startups in line with the SDGs.

After this presentation, the need to create innovative European projects in rural areas, as well as in the fields of forest management and fire-fighting for the recovery of burnt areas, was highlighted.

The importance of innovation for an EU industry in firefighting

This meeting was followed by Finnova's presentation of several examples in the framework of Startup Village Europe on fire fighting and prevention and forest management, such as the Interreg projects CILIFO, FIREPOCTEP and precursors of the CLIMATE-KIC project.

CILIFO is the Iberian Centre for Forest Fire Research and Fighting, a 24.6 million euro Interreg Spain - Portugal (POCTEP) project. FOIL-CILIFO won last November 2021 the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), held in Portoroz, Slovenia and organised by DG Grow of the European Commission, and obtained European recognition for implementing the world's first accelerator focused on forest fires.

FIREPOCTEP is a 5.6 million euro project under the Interreg POCTEP programme, which aims to strengthen cross-border forest fire prevention and extinguishing systems and improve resources for the generation of rural employment post-Covid-19.

In addition, CLIMATE-KIC is Europe's largest cleantech accelerator programme, where Finnova offers training in European funding to startups related to climate, environment, circular economy, energy, water and firefighting. In addition, the mentoring enables them to learn how to take advantage of the visibility provided by European recognitions.

"Fires are a global concern. In 2022, more than 800,000 hectares were burnt in Europe", stressed Revuelta, who asked the Commissioner for her "institutional support to explore possibilities for collaboration and to find innovative solutions in rural areas" to promote rural innovation hubs in bioeconomy and forest management and in the framework of the Startup Village.

The alternative to organic waste

Following with other projects that have become success stories for Finnova by using the same Startup Europe methodology and public-private partnership, we talked about LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0, an innovative project that uses digital tools and offers an alternative for organic waste in landfills. This technology makes it possible to control and automate the digesters of wastewater treatment plants to make biogas a reliable and green energy source that can meet the energy demand.

Women's entrepreneurship and the promotion of STEM careers in schools

In fact, LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0 inspired one of the GIRLS4TECH and TECHNOVATION GIRLS projects in schools. Lola Bordás, president of Fundadoras and director of women's entrepreneurship projects at Finnova, explained the importance of prioritising STEM careers in girls.

At this point, the Commissioner learned first-hand about an example of a school, where three girls created COMEN 2.0, a good practice with scientific impact in the school environment that was selected to be presented in the Horizon Europe programme and won the Finnova Challenges - Technovation Girls 2021 award. In the framework of the LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0 project, an app was created by the girls from the Abecé school in Gandía, which put hotels and restaurants in contact with wastewater treatment plants for the reuse of organic waste. The prizes were awarded by the Minister of Science and Innovation Diana Morant, together with the General Director for Research and Innovation of the European Commission Jean-Eric Paquet.

Through this enriching project exchange meeting at the European Commission, Mariya Gabriel thanked all those women's projects of the Finnova Foundation that help to make female talent and entrepreneurship visible because, she said, "we have to support each other".


FOIL-CILIFO is the first Firefighting Open Innovation Lab in the forest fire and forest management sector. This project is funded by the Interreg POCTEP programme (2014-2020) and supports the initiatives of entrepreneurs and companies in the field of forest fire prevention and firefighting. The workspace of this public-private partnership network is located in Seville/Huelva (Spain).


WOMEN4TECH is the Finnova Foundation's initiative to support innovation, disruptive projects and public-private partnerships for women. They support different projects such as Finnova Challenges - Technovation Girls to promote STEAM careers in young people or female entrepreneurship projects through strategic alliances based on the SDGs.

About StartUp Europe Awards

StartUp Europe Awards is an initiative of the European Commission in collaboration with StartUp Europe and implemented by the Finnova Foundation, which uses the open innovation methodology of public-private partnership. It is a tool that allows companies to identify talented startups capable of solving current challenges in multiple areas.

About Finnova Foundation

Finnova is the Spanish-Belgian non-profit foundation based in Brussels and Spain, working for the promotion and development of innovation and entrepreneurship in the EU. Finnova's experience in leading communication and dissemination activities of European projects is combined with a solid proven track record in business creation and entrepreneurial support programmes, such as accelerators, incubators and events, as well as its commitment to training and employability of young people.