European Inventor Award 2010

08 March 2010

The nominees for the European Inventor Award 2010 include inventors of pioneering innovations in a range of fields, from the conservation of drinking water to the synthesis of football-shaped carbon molecules or ‘fullerenes’, and from cancer treatments to digital data encryption.

Other nominees are the Wii console, the civilian use of GPS, mobile use of fuel cells, ‘green’ plastic, and internet access straight from a wall socket. The award honours individual inventors, or teams of inventors, who, through their pioneering work, respond to the challenges of our time, thereby contributing to progress and prosperity.

The four winners will be chosen by a high-ranking international jury and will be presented with their prizes in Madrid on 28 April 2010 by European Patent Office President Alison Brimelow, who stated: “The core task of the patent system is to support innovation through the effective protection of inventions. We must seek to maintain and strengthen the performance of the system to ensure the patent-based diffusion of pioneering technologies into the future."

Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "The nominees underline the richness of the human imagination. Their inventions mean a lot for mankind and for shaping our modern world; yet their innovatory spirit also helps to create jobs in Europe and strengthen its competitiveness. The Europe 2020 strategy, just adopted by the European Commission, indeed stresses the need for a more innovative Europe. In this light I hope these inventors encourage others to follow their paths."

Twelve candidates from nine countries are competing this year. The prize, which is purely symbolic and involves no material recompense, is awarded in four categories: Lifetime achievement, Industry, SMEs/research and Non-European countries. In addition to countries with a tradition of innovation, this year’s contest also sees candidates from Belgium, Canada, Denmark and Spain.

Nominations for the European Inventor Award can be made by the inventors themselves or put forward by patent examiners from the national patent offices and the EPO. A panel of EPO experts checks all proposals received to ensure they satisfy all criteria with respect to form and content before they are submitted to the jury. Previous winners include Adolf Goetzberger, the father of solar-power generation (2009), Peter Grünberg, Nobel Laureate in Physics (2006), AIDS researcher Erik De Clercq (2008) and Federico Faggin, the inventor of the microprocessor (2006).

The shortlist for the European Inventor Award 2010:

Inventor: Hermann Grether, Christoph Weis (DE):
Invention: The Perlator, a jet regulator for water taps, provides an effective means of saving precious drinking water

Inventor: Albert Markendorf, Dr Raimund Loser (CH)
Invention: Three-dimensional laser-controlled measuring system for quality control in the automotive and aerospace industry with maximum-precision metrology

Inventor: Benedetto Vigna (IT)
Invention: Three-dimensional motion sensor for use in wireless controllers like the motion control sensor of the Nintendo Wii

Inventor: Jürgen Pfizer, Helmut Nägele (DE)
Invention: Arboform, the ‘green’ alternative to plastic; this natural polymer is currently used around the world in the manufacture of car parts, children’s toys, furniture and much more

Inventor: Albert Gelet, Jean-Yves Chapelon, Dominique Cathignol, Emmanuel Blanc (FR)
Invention: Ultrasound treatment is now an integral part of a highly effective device for fighting prostate cancer

Inventor: Jorge Blasco (ES)
Invention: Data transmission over power lines for fast internet access straight from the wall socket

Lifetime achievement
Inventor: Peter Landrock (DK)
Lifetime achievement: Many of the encryption methods used today for the digital transmission of confidential data are based on Landrock’s pioneering work

Inventor: Wolfgang Krätschmer (DE)
Lifetime achievement: Krätschmer’s procedure for synthesising C60 carbon
molecules (fullerenes) helps to develop new lubricants and fuels, electronic superconductors and polymers designed for data storage

Inventor: Desiré Collen (BE)
Lifetime achievement: Collen’s findings in the field of blood clots broke new ground in medication for strokes and heart attacks

Non-European countries
Inventor: Sanjai Kohli and his team (US)
Invention: Thanks to their revolutionary receiver-chip design, GPS has successfully found its way onto the consumer market

Inventor: Danny G. Epp, Ben Wiens (CA)
Invention: Hydrogen fuel cells for many mobile applications, utilised today in many buses around the world

Inventor: Napoleone Ferrara and his team (US)
Invention: The cancer drug Avastin inhibits the growth of cancer cells and is the basis for a gentler, focused therapy

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