The great and the good from the world of technological innovation board a boat in Copenhagen for the European Inventor Award, presented by the European Patent Office, in co-operation with the European Commission.
Since 2006 the annual award acknowledges the work of some Europe’s brightest minds.
An international jury sifted through hundreds of applications until a final 15 were selected.
There are five awards on offer in five different categories:
The Royal Danish Playhouse is the venue for the ceremony and Crown Prince Frederic and Princess Mary are in attendance.
Professor Josef Bille from the University of Heidelberg picked up a lifetime achievement award for his work in the field of laser eye surgery.
Professor Bille invented the technology for laser eye corrections. The laser scans the eye in great detail and allows the mapping of defects in the iris. The sheer detail allows the surgeon to carry out precise surgical procedures or create tailor made lenses.
The technology has helped correct the vision of millions across the globe.
Professor Josef Bille explains the benefits of the technology for those with eye problems:
“The advantages are for people with higher degrees of optical deficiencies in the eye, so higher myopia, higher hyperopia, high degree of astigmatism, which cannot be corrected with conventional means, like glasses or contact lenses.”
In the Non European category Dr John O’Sullivan and his team from Australia took home an award for their work in developing wireless networking technology, better known as WiFi.
The researchers created a robust technology that would be as strong and reliable as the cable transfer systems. The technology developed in the 90’s forms the basis of today’s wireless networks. The discovery came about as scientists were studying radio waves to investigate black holes.
The inventor John O’Sullivan has been surprised by the number of devices that use the technology:
“We now find the technology we invented in, I believe, something like 3 billion devices. It is everywhere from mobile phones, printers, computers, also in devices we had never thought of initially.”
In the “Industry” category, the EPO honored the Dane Jan Tøpholm, for developing a computer-aided method to manufacture hearing-aids. Dr. Manfred Stefener from Germany, received the award in the “SMEs” category for the development of the first fuel cell for portable use. The award in the “Research” category went to Frenchman Dr. Gilles Gosselin who developed an effective drug for the treatment of hepatitis B.
Benoit Battistelli is the President of European Patent Office:
“ I think it is a form of public recognition. Inventors are sensitive. We have evidence that previous winners have said the award completely changed their lives. Being recognised helps them find partners and develop their work.”
All aboard the boat with a very bright passenger list indeed.