Frequently Asked Questions

What is Sciana: The Health Leaders Network?

Sciana: The Health Leaders Network is designed to bring together outstanding leaders in health and health care policy and innovation. The network provides members space to take inspiration and learning from across the globe. It also gives them time to share insights gained, as well as their own experiences with peers, with whom they will work to address some of the shared challenges we are facing across Europe.

The network was initiated by the foundation partners in 2017, and has continued to evolve as the programme develops. Sciana network members contribute actively to shape the programme and build the network for the future.

Read Sciana’s mission statement here: [Link]

Who is the network for?

The network is for outstanding health leaders who are primarily living and working in one of the three countries of the founding partners (UK, Switzerland and Germany) who share a deep commitment to improving health and quality, sustainability, universal coverage, and patient and community-centered care, nationally and internationally. Their vision and collaboration, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, is critically needed to respond to common issues, such as fiscal strains, demographic change, chronic diseases, digital transformation, patient centredness and migration.

What are the selection criteria?

The programme is designed for participants who as leaders, working and living primarily in one of the countries of the founding partners (UK, Switzerland, and Germany), are:

Current role

  • Tasked with leading collaborative work that is cross-sector and cross-disciplinary 
  • Leading transformational change or whole systems reform within or across organizations or communities that requires fresh, bold and collective thinking  
  • Holding a position in the field of health and/or public policy, research, media, community development, industry, patient advocacy, innovation or similar fields. 

Participants should also be able to demonstrate the following:


  • Significant experience of contributing to improving health through innovation, research, policy-making and/or community programmes, including influencing multiple stakeholders and systems
  • A proven track record of building bridges between different health care sectors or between sectors that affect the determinants of health  
  • Proven experience in advancing the quality and sustainability of care or public services that affect health, universal coverage, and person-centred care at a local, national and/ or global level.


  • Knowledge of, or experience with multiple international health systems (desirable)
  • Have excellent English language skills (knowledge of further languages are an advantage).

Qualities and interests

  • Demonstrated interest in exploring new ways of approaching complex  issues
  • Strongly committed to engaging actively with a community of peers and experts
  • Entrepreneurial and strategic thinking, understanding the scale and complexity of key challenges facing health and health care systems. Interest in further exploring ways to manage the tensions between long-term policy goals and short-term political pressures. 
  • Energetic and curious, not afraid to ask uncomfortable questions and able to motivate others to implement unconventional measures.
  • Deep commitment to equity, quality, sustainability, universal coverage, and patient and community-centered care and wider endeavors outlined in the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Committed to attending all seminars and meetings, which may require travel to Salzburg and local meetings.

Who is supporting the network?

The Health Foundation (UK), Careum Stiftung (Switzerland) and the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany) have come together to design and fund the network. The three foundations are working in collaboration with Salzburg Global Seminar who manage and deliver the programme on their behalf. Professor Ilona Kickbusch, a renowned international health leader, is chair of the Sciana network programme development.

What is the role of Sciana members in the network?

This is a prestigious opportunity and the foundations expect members to play a full and active part in collaborating with colleagues from across the three countries, and further afield. They should have a track record of making change and being innovative. Sciana members are individuals who are committed to seeing excellent health and care across Europe and beyond. We want people that can spark debate, say the unsayable and think the unthinkable. We want senior leaders who are delivering today, and will continue to deliver real change in the future, whilst exciting passion and commitment from those working across the health and health care field.

How is the network structured?

Over two years, Sciana members attend four three-day gatherings in Salzburg. Salzburg Global Seminar is responsible for the programme delivery in Salzburg. It also supports members throughout their time on the programme with their dedicated team and online platform, supporting member collaboration and ensuring that members continue to stay connected between meetings. 

Meetings are led by international health experts, and members can showcase and develop policy proposals, innovations and game-changing projects. 

Together the cohort will have the opportunity to shape a ‘Sciana challenge’, which will guide cohort members to develop integrated solutions for each country’s health system. Cohort 5 will be specifically working on the theme of “Leadership for heath in a post-COVID world”.

Sciana members are encouraged to meet one another to work on agreed projects in between these formal meetings. The network comprises up to eighteen members in each cohort – around six from each country, selected by each foundation.

What is the “Sciana Challenge”

At the beginning of their two-year programme with Sciana, members take part in a collaborative, hands-on exercise called the Sciana Challenge. Each cohort is given a critical real-world topic in health, which requires collaborative, whole-of-system leadership. Within small working groups, members will identify a sub-area of the challenge to investigate and tackle.

The cohort 5 challenge will seek to support members navigate the recovery phase of the pandemic and build a thriving healthier and inclusive future. From their group work, members will be able draw out practical strategies and takeaways directly relevant and transferable to their everyday work, leadership style and interests. Beyond these immediate benefits, the challenge offers cohort members an opportunity to gain in-depth cross-country, cross-sector and interprofessional insights and networks, which members can draw on in the long-term.

What exactly does the theme “Leadership for health in a post- COVID world” entail?

A range of possibilities for the future of health are upon us as the ‘new normal’ takes shape post 2020. Great strides in leadership are needed to transcend reactive, incremental responses to current challenges, and jolt societies into transformational change. Individual leaders do not often possess all the resources, insight and mandate needed to address these complex issues alone. Collaborative leadership is needed more than ever to recover from the pandemic and build back better.
The Sciana programme for cohort 5 under the theme of “leadership for health in a post-pandemic world” will support leaders to navigate through new emerging political landscapes post-pandemic. Its leadership development approach reinforces forward-thinking, one which sees leadership development going beyond individual leaders’ abilities and includes forging communities of leaders, to support leadership as networks.

What is the time commitment?

Sciana members are required to attend all four of the three-day gatherings in Salzburg over two years. Members are also encouraged to work in smaller project teams in between formal meetings to collaborate on joint projects to deliver work and project findings at national and international conferences and events. Members are expected to remain in and are invited to actively contribute to the network beyond their initial two-year membership.

The tentative dates for the in-person meetings in Salzburg are:

10 to 14 May 2022
22 to 26 November 2022

7 to 11 May 2023
19 to 23 November 2023

Do Sciana members have to attend all four meetings?

Sciana members must be committed to attending all three days of each meeting when they apply to join the network. As there are usually only 18 members per cohort and demand for places are high, attending all four seminars is obligatory. We kindly ask for your understanding that this is non-negotiable and a prerequisite for all applications.

How is Sciana reacting to the COVID-pandemic?

Sciana is a network that lives and thrives on personal connections and in-person meetings at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg. However, health and safety are always our highest priority, but especially so during these challenging times. During the pandemic, the network meetings have been held online and the connections between members encouraged with an intersessional programme. We are planning to reconvene in Salzburg as soon as travel and safety restrictions allow and assume that the members of Cohort 5 will be able to meet in Salzburg in May 2022. The foundation partners are in close communication with Salzburg Global Seminar, meaning that members will be informed directly of any programme changes, as and when necessary.  

How will a Sciana member benefit from this opportunity?

This is an exciting opportunity to be part of and help build something new, that has a real and lasting positive impact on health and care across Europe, with scope to expand world-wide in the future. As a Sciana member, you will shape and build this exciting network and see your ideas and vision for the future discussed, debated and acted upon by senior leaders with the potential to make real and lasting change. Sciana is building a legacy for the future. You will have access to the brightest of minds and an opportunity to interact with senior ambassadors as well as other network members who will challenge your thinking and bring different perspectives to bear.

Who are the Senior Ambassadors?

Senior Ambassadors are exceptional health leaders from the UK, Switzerland and Germany with extensive experience at the highest level of policymaking. They are associated with the programme, support outreach, and attend programmes to advise, consult, and inspire. During the seminars in Salzburg Senior Ambassadors offer mentorship, vision, and practical guidance for the group. 

The current Senior Ambassadors are: 

Sir David Behan, CEO Health Education England, UK
Professor Bettina Borisch, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Dr. h. c. Edelgard Bulmahn, Former Member of the German Bundestag and former Federal Minister for Education and Research, Germany
Professor Heyo Kroemer, CEO Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
Thomas Zeltner, Deputy Chair, University Council of the Medical University of Vienna

Further details including short biographies of the Senior Ambassadors are available here:

How is the network funded?

Costs for all meetings for Sciana members are covered by the three foundations, including travel to attend the meetings.  Bursaries are available for site visits, and every member will be encouraged to devise and undertake at least one visit as an individual or collaborating in a team.

How to apply

If you wish to become part of the Sciana network, please send Astrid Koblmüller your CV, along with a covering letter responding to the membership criteria described as well as separate responses to the following questions:

  • Leading transformational change: What significant health issues are you working to address? What major challenges and opportunities are you currently facing? In your role, how are you uniquely positioned to make a difference? (150 words max)
  • Previous experience: As an individual, what are your greatest strengths and developmental areas as a leader? (150 words max)
  • Collaborative leadership: What kinds of cross-sector or cross-disciplinary relationship are you interested in cultivating? And, why? How do you envision contributing to the Sciana network? (150 words max)
  • Confirmation that you are available for all four meetings.

If you have any questions about the application process, you can also contact the Foundations directly:

The Health Foundation: Ruth Thorlby, Assistant Director, Policy:
Careum Stiftung: Martina Hersperger, Head of Corporate Development and Communication:
Robert Bosch Stiftung: Louise Baker-Schuster, Senior Project Manager, Health:

When is the closing date for applications?

The closing date for applications for cohort 5 is 12th September 2021

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