The European Patent Office announced on Tuesday in Amsterdam the winners of the European Inventor Awards for 2013.
With this prize, the EPO wants to “honour outstanding inventors for … contribution to social, economic and technological progress,” the organization explained in a statement.
“Innovation holds the key to safeguarding quality of life and economic prosperity in Europe,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli at the award ceremony. “All of the inventors honoured here today have been truly exemplary, not only in coming up with ingenious solutions to challenges of our time, such as healthcare and climate change, but also in improving people’s lives through the quality of the products and services that we are using every day, and by creating jobs to promote economic wealth. They demonstrate Europe’s creative drive and inventive spirit, and the role played by patents in supporting this.”
There were five categories for awards this year, in addition to the Popular Prize.
- Martin Schadt (Switzerland) received the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the inventor of the world’s first flat-panel liquid crystal display, also known as LCD. Schadt’s invention is now used by millions of people everyday around the globe.
- Claus Hämmerle and Klaus Brüstle (Austria) received the Industry Award. Their invention, a system for softer closing of furniture doors and drawers etc. has “seen enormous market success worldwide and has become an industry standard,” according to the EPO.
- The Swede Pål Nyrén won the Small and Medium-Sized Entrerprises Award. He invented pyrosequencing, a more efficient DNA strands sequencing method. Pyrosequencing’s “lower costs and greater speeds has revolutionised the study of the building blocks of life and opened up new avenues for research” for cures for diseases such as cancer.
- A French-Italian team composed of Patrick Couvreur, Barbara Stella, Véronique Rosilio and Luigi Cattel received the Research Award for their invention of nano-capsules. Invented at Paris- Sud University, those capsules are “70 times smaller than red blood cells and protected by a biodegradable coating [and can] destroy cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.”
- The Non-European Countries Award went to Ajay V. Bhatt, Bala Sudarshan Cadambi, Jeff Morriss, Shaun Knoll and Shelagh Callahan (USA) for creating and developing the Universal Serial Bus (USB) technology. Chances are, if you are reading this on a computer, a tablet or a smartphone, you are familiar with the USB technology. And so are another gazillion people using it everyday.
- The Spaniard José Luis López Gómez won the Popular Prize for his innovative wheel guiding design for high speed trains. It increases comfort and safety and helps reduce energy consumption and wear.
Popular Prize winner José Luis López Gómez recalled how his brother had told him that it would be difficult to develop something new because everything has already been invented. But “everything can be optimised to improve the quality of life,” he told the audience.