Inventors working in plastic recycling and cancer diagnostics have been honoured at the European Inventor Awards.
The ceremony at Vienna's Wiener Stadthalle on Thursday also saw awards given to innovators working in the fields of rechargeable battery technology, marine anti-fouling and DNA testing. Winners came from around the world – from Austria, France, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain.
Spanish scientist Margarita Salas Falgueras was also given the lifetime achievement award for her pioneering work in genetics and molecular biology. Working on DNA amplification for genomics, Falgueras invented a faster, simpler and more reliable way to replicate traces of DNA into quantities large enough for full genomic testing, using the enzyme phi29 DNA polymerase. Her invention is now used widely in oncology, forensics and archaeology.
Launched by the EPO in 2006, the awards honour those whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times. Finalists and winners are selected by an independent, international jury of authorities in the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research.
Speaking from the ceremony, EPO President António Campinos said: "The imagination, intellect and expertise on display at this year's European Inventor Awards are inspirational. All of the finalists and winners are pushing boundaries and achieving new heights in their respective disciplines.
"These inventors’ stories also show how patent protection can help turn innovation into market success. What's more, intellectual property rights are fuelling the European economy – industries that make high use of patents, trademarks and design rights contribute significantly to GDP, trade and job creation in Europe."
Held at the Wiener Stadthalle, the Award ceremony, now in its 14th edition, was attended by some 600 guests from the fields of intellectual property, politics, business, science and academia. The finalists and winners were selected by an independent, international jury from a pool of hundreds of inventors and teams of inventors put forward for this year's awards.
The laureates of the European Inventor Award 2019 are:
IKlaus Feichtinger and Manfred Hackl of Austria for their work in the field of higher-performance plastic recycling. With their approach, waste plastics of many types can be turned into high quality pellets for new products. Today, more than 6, 000 of their machines in operation worldwide produce more than 14.5 million tonnes of plastic pellets annually.
French immunologist Jérôme Galon, inventor of Immunoscore®, a clearer cancer test. This diagnostic tool assesses the risk of relapse in cancer patients, using digital images of tumour samples and advanced software to measure immune response. Galon's invention is already in use at clinics around the world to improve the accuracy of prognosis for patients with colorectal cancer.
Japanese scientist Akira Yoshino, the father of the lithium-ion battery (LIB). His rechargeable batteries power almost 5 billion mobile phones, laptops and other portable devices, as well as electric vehicles. For decades he has been dedicated to continually improving LIBs.
Rik Breur of the Netherlands' for his marine antifouling fibre wrap, which was inspired by a sea urchin's prickly surface. The wrap is an environmentally friendly alternative to toxic paints on ships and marine structures. Algae, barnacles and mussels just slide off it, saving boats up to 40 per cent on their fuel consumption.