The European Inventor Awards were held at the Hungarian Academy of Science in Budapest. This annual event is jointly organised by the European Commission and the European Patent office.
There are 15 projects in competition, in the sectors of medical research, energy and construction technology, vehicle engineering and environmental solutions.
The ‘Research’ award went to the Belgian scientist Christine Van Broeckhoven for her work on Alzheimer’s disease.
She uses DNA to understand what happens in a brain affected by dementia, in particular the massive loss of brain cells.
Her pioneering method for identifying Alzheimer’s genes paves the way for modern drugs and treatments to combat this illness, which isolates suffers from the world.
Indian-American scientists, Ashok Gadgil and Vikas Garud won the ‘Non-European’ award for their ultraviolet water cleaning device.
Lack of safe drinking water is a global problem for around one billion people worldwide. But the ultraviolet water disinfection device offers a cost-effective, easy-to-use solution.
Ashok Gadgil explained how it works: “Water goes into the device, it falls under the UV lamp, gets irradiated with UV light and comes out free of active or alive pathogens.”
The purifier weighs less than seven kilos and needs only a 40 watt UV light bulb to disinfect 1,000 litres of water an hour. In places without mains electricity, it can also be run from a car battery or a small solar panel.
Currently, patents for new inventions are still approved at a national level within each EU member state, but there is a plan to unify patents across the EU and 11 other associated countries.
The European Patent project will contribute to making the system easier for inventors, simpler, cheaper and more transparent.