Euronews reporter Chris Cummins travels to sunny Portugal and introduces us to some of Europe’s brightest minds: ‘‘It’s fitting that here in Lisbon the final resting place of the great Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama that modern day pioneers have gathered to celebrate the spirit of creativity at the European Inventor Awards.”
The awards are a recognition of the visionary work of European inventors presented by the custodians of innovation, the European Patent Office
Automotive engineer Anton van Zanten received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his breakthrough development the ESE.
(electronic stability control system)
The system prevents a vehicle from losing control while veering sideways after the breaks have been applied in an emergency situation.
It is the second most successful safety advancement after the seat belt.
The Dutch scientist spoke about the emotion surrounding his life saving invention:’‘I’m very grateful that the system turns out to be so valuable for drivers because the ESE prevents accidents, severe accidents with serverly wounded people. That is the main thing why I am so grateful.’‘
The Mannschaft of Bernhard Gleich and Jurgen Weizenecker won the Industry Award for their magnet-based imaging method, which provides doctors with affordable high-resolution 3D images to help diagnose soft tissue cancers and vascular disease, including coronary heart conditions, a major cause of death.
The technique has huge implications for medical diagnostics.
Jürgen Weizenecker believes the device will act as a magnet to researchers and initiate further discovery:
“People will ask exactly what is this? And it will attract many creative people who will advance the method, and people from all over the world people will start to work with it.”
French neurosurgeon and physicist Alim-Louis Benabid picked up the Research Award.
His high-frequency deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions has changed significantly the quality of life for sufferers across the globe.
Dr Benabid said innovators need reassurance as well as funding: “To receive an award bestows recognition and the conformation that what we do is important. We always fear that what we do isn’t very good. But this outside recognition validates the work and is very agreeable.”
Tue Johannessen and Ulrich Quaade laid claim to the SMEs prize.
The Danes have developed a technique to stabilise highly volatile ammonia and use the properties of the temperamental substance to help reduce pollution from diesel engines.
Ammonia, famous for its rank stench has some excellent qualities says Tue Johannessen: ‘‘It’s the perfect molecule to reduce NOx (nitrous oxide) in the exhaust from diesel engines. So in order to capture that benefit for the best possible performance on a car you have to make it safe and that is basically what we have done here in the development from the core invention up to where we are now to enable us to use ammonia on board a vehicle without any safety problems.”
Based at the University of Cambridge Helen Lee has developed an instant self-contained blood diagnostic kit for use in the world’s poorer regions.
It allows for simple on-the-spot detection of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and chlamydia.
Dr Lee wins the Popular Prize.
She took an analogy from literature to describe her work: “If you know the book ‘Gone with the Wind’ and Scarlett O’Hara is the key character. You are really looking for a needle in an haystack and looking for the unique words or sequences of a bacterial virus, so you find the Scarlett O’Hara and you know you have ‘Gone with the Wind.’
The diverse creativity that is honoured here from road safety innovations to medical diagnostics and treatment show that given the right circumstances, creativity can have a huge economic and social impact on the daily lives of millions of people.