28 May 2013
Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands watches the ceremony
The EPO today announced the
winners of the European Inventor Award 2013, which honours outstanding
inventors for their contribution to social, economic and technological
Some 500 guests attended the award ceremony at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam,
including Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Sander Dekker, the Netherlands State Secretary for
Education, Culture and Science, and Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner for Internal
Market and Services.
The 2013 awards were presented
in five categories, in addition to the Popular Prize:
- Lifetime Achievement: Martin Schadt (Switzerland), inventor
of the world's first flat-panel liquid crystal display, better known as LCD.
Schadt's technology has paved the way for the low-energy devices, such as flat
screens, tablet computers and mobile phones, now used by millions of people
- Industry: Claus Hämmerle
and Klaus Brüstle (Austria) from
Austrian manufacturer Julius Blum for their invention of a damper system for
soft closing of furniture doors, drawers and wall cabinets. 'Blumotion' has
seen enormous market success worldwide and has become an industry standard.
- Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Pål
for inventing pyrosequencing ─ a far faster, less complicated and cheaper
method of sequencing DNA strands. Its combination of lower costs and greater
speeds has revolutionised the study of the building blocks of life, and opened
up new avenues for research into personalised treatments and cures for
life-threatening diseases such as cancer.
- Research: Patrick Couvreur, Barbara Stella,
Véronique Rosilio, Luigi Cattel (France,
Italy), a team
at Paris-Sud University, for their invention of
nano-capsules - 70 times smaller than red blood cells and protected by a
biodegradable coating - which destroy cancer cells without harming healthy
- Non-European Countries: Ajay V. Bhatt,
Bala Sudarshan Cadambi, Jeff Morriss, Shaun Knoll, Shelagh Callahan (USA), for
creating and developing Universal Serial Bus (USB) technology, one of the most
important advances in computing since the silicon chip. An industry standard
today, USB not only allows users to more easily connect devices to a computer,
it also streamlines work for hardware and software developers. It is found in
billions of electronic devices all over the world, from webcams to cell phones
and memory sticks.
- The winner of the Popular Prize was José
Luis López Gómez (Spain), whose invention to use a unique ‘independent
guided' wheel design rather than a standard axle on high-speed passenger
trains makes those trains some of the most comfortable and safe in the
industry. The new technology also helps to reduce energy consumption,
premature wear and costs of maintenance. An electronic system monitors the speed at
which the wheels are rotating. Due to the wheels' slightly conical shape
and the difference in length between the inner and outer tracks on a
curved section of track, the system can determine the wheels' exact
contact point. Pneumatic struts attached to the wheels then move the
wheels to the best position.
José Luis López Gómez, winner of the first European Inventor Award Popular Prize
"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
Accepting his award, Patrick Couvreur, winner in the Research
category, said he was "especially happy" to receive it as it
recognised the need for more medicines to treat cancer, and pancreatic cancer
Pål Nyrén, winner in the SMEs category, said it was "a
real surprise to be nominated" and added that he was "even more
surprised" to win the award.
Sudarshan Cadambi, one of the team who won in the Non-European countries
category, said that "a problem is often an opportunity". He described
how the team's invention, USB, had helped his mother to use her digital camera,
and teammate Ajay Bhatt's daughter to take her music with her.
A winner in the Industry category, Claus Hämmerle stressed
the important role his colleagues had played in developing the soft-close
hinge. He said the award celebrated "the success of a team of
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 had already been invented. But "everything can be optimised to
improve the quality of life," he told the audience.
Lifetime achievement winner Martin Schadt said he was
"very surprised" to receive the award "because my colleagues did
beautiful work too. It must have been a difficult decision."