The one-hour appearance of Hollywood actor Michael J. Fox on June 20th was the absolute highlight of Bits & Pretzels Healthtech 2023 at the ICM in Munich, Germany.
Fox was presented with the Frontier Award, an honor established to recognize those who dare to venture into the unknown, face adversity with courage, and persist with optimism even when the odds seem too large.
Fox, who has tirelessly been ﬁghting Parkinson’s disease since his own diagnosis more than 30 years ago, was awarded for his dedication in this ongoing battle. The activist’s efforts were celebrated on the main stage of the European healthcare innovation event, which connects startups, businesses, medical professionals, and health tech investors.
According to Fox, actions and decisions made today shape the legacy we leave behind. While he acknowledged the uncertainty of the future, he encouraged the audience to make a difference in the present. His call to action was especially resonant for those in the healthtech industry, urging them to strive for transformative impact.
The actor then spent 45 minutes sharing inspiring words about his battle against the progressing disease and his extraordinary commitment. The Michael J. Fox Foundation has grown to be the world’s largest non-proﬁt funder of Parkinson’s research. Through his active advocacy and tireless effort, Fox has not only raised more than $1.75 billion for Parkinson’s research, but has also accelerated the search for a cure. The foundation is one of the leading voices in scientiﬁc philanthropy.
Michael J. Fox emphasized that the goal is not merely to ﬁnd a cure for Parkinson’s, but to eradicate its very existence. ‘The ambition is to create a world free from the shackles of regression and symptoms,’ he said. The journey is not easy, but the goal – a world without Parkinson’s – makes every challenge along the way worthwhile, he added.
Compared to its premiere in 2022, Bits & Pretzels has experienced substantial growth, with over 2,500 visitors expected at the ICM over the two-day conference, doubling last year’s attendance.
With more than 200 speakers and over 100 exhibiting startups, the event also has a signiﬁcantly more international focus than in 2022. This advance underscores the success of the concept of shaping Bits & Pretzels as a leading startup-centered trade fair for healthtech in Europe.