Press release | 15.6.2017
Venice/Munich, 15 June 2017 - Outstanding inventors from twelve countries took centre stage as the European Patent Office (EPO) unveiled the winners of its European Inventor Award 2017 at a ceremony today in Venice. Now in its 12th year, the award is presented annually by the EPO to recognise outstanding inventors from Europe and around the world who have made exceptional contributions to social development, technological progress and economic growth.
"These inventors have not only contributed to furthering technological development, their patented inventions have had a major social and economic impact, from life-saving medical advances and materials to protect our environment to satellite navigation technologies that bring us closer together," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli at the award ceremony. "It is especially fitting that this year's ceremony is held in Venice - a city with a special place in the history of patents and innovation. This legacy lives on today as witnessed in the group of winners selected from the fifteen finalists for this year's award."
Some 600 guests from the areas of politics, business, intellectual property, science and academia were in attendance at Venice's Arsenale di Venezia as the EPO President, and Carlo Calenda, Italy's Minister of Economic Development, opened the ceremony.
The 2017 award winners are:
Jan van den Boogaart and Oliver Hayden
Rapid blood test for malaria
Dutch haematologist Jan van den Boogaart and Austrian biochemist Oliver Hayden developed the world's first automated, computer-based blood test for malaria - a "silent killer" which claims more than 600 000 lives a year. Instead of looking for the presence of malaria pathogens in the blood through the microscope, their technique relies on a combination of 30 blood parameters to create a "data fingerprint" that rapidly identifies malaria with almost complete certainty.
Laurent Lestarquit, José Ángel
Ávila Rodríguez, Günter
W. Hein, Jean-Luc Issler and Lionel Ries (France, Spain, Germany, Belgium)
Radio signals for better satellite navigation
The signalling technologies developed by this multinational group of scientists and engineers help ensure that Europe's global navigation satellite system (GNSS), Galileo, offers extremely high positioning accuracy for a growing range of applications. The team's work also builds the framework for Galileo's cross compatibility with the two current systems, US-led GPS and Russia's GLONASS, and supports a wealth of features that will make Galileo the world's most advanced GNSS when it becomes fully operational in 2020.
James G. Fujimoto, Eric A. Swanson and Robert Huber (USA, Germany)
High resolution medical imaging (OCT)
Doctors and clinicians can examine soft body tissue and blood vessels without invasive probing or surgical biopsies thanks to the optical coherence tomography (OCT) technology developed by this team of two US engineers and German physicist. Now a standard in ophthalmology, OCT technology has given doctors a new tool to diagnose serious eye diseases at early, treatable stages, preventing vision loss and serious complications in countless cases. OCT's applications have been expanded to a range of medical fields.
Super-sponge for oil spills
Oil and chemical spills are responsible for considerable damage to both human health and the environment. However, they may have met their match with a novel micronised wax, developed by Günter Hufschmid and his team at the German company Deurex. Known as "Pure", the wax can adsorb close to seven times its own weight in hydrophobic liquids and has already seen use in the heavily contaminated Niger Delta and in cleaning up residential heating oil spills in Germany.
Adnane Remmal (Morocco)
Boosting antibiotics with essential oils
Moroccan biology professor Adnane Remmal was picked by the public in an online poll to receive this year's Popular Prize for his invention of a new tool in the global fight against drug-resistant bacteria. Remmal's "boosted antibiotic", which uses the medicinal properties of local plants, improves the efficacy of standard antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections, without side effects and resistance build-up. Remmal received the highest number of the more than 119 000 votes cast online.
Rino Rappuoli (Italy)
Novel vaccines by gene analysis
Considered the father of modern-day vaccinations, Italian microbiologist Rino Rappuoli pioneered so-called "conjugate vaccines" and launched a new generation of immunisations, which are effective against numerous serious infections such as diphtheria, bacterial meningitis and whooping cough. Rappuoli's vaccines have made the world a safer place; his techniques to manufacture them have fundamentally changed vaccine design, including a process known as "reverse vaccinology" used to create the world's first genome-derived vaccines.
The European Inventor Award, now in its 12th year, is one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2006, the annual award distinguishes individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times. To qualify for the award, proposals have to meet specific criteria, including that the inventor had to have been granted at least one European patent for their invention by the EPO. The finalists and winners in five categories are selected by an independent jury consisting of international authorities in the fields of business, science, academia and research, who examine the proposals in terms of their contribution towards technical progress, social development, and wealth and job creation in Europe. This year's 15 finalists were selected from more than 450 proposals - the highest number ever put forward for the award. The winner of the Popular Prize is chosen from among the 15 finalists by online voting in the run-up to the ceremony.
With nearly 7 000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 42 countries, covering a market of around 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.
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Director External Communication