Meet the finalists
The European Inventor Award honours the individuals whose inventions impact our lives. Thanks to these pioneers, our world is becoming safer, smarter and more sustainable.
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The invention by French neurosurgeon and physicist Alim-Louis Benabid of high-frequency deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease and other neurological conditions has allowed patients around the world to resume functional and fulfilling lives without the need for radical surgeries.
Alain Carpentier, perhaps the world's most renowned cardiologist, not only pioneered novel methods for repairing faulty hearts, he found a way to replace them. The 82-year-old French heart surgeon invented the Carmat heart, the world's first fully implantable, self-regulating heart. Unlike similar prosthetics, Carpentier's device mimics the heart's natural physiology, adjusting the volume of blood it pumps depending on whether its recipient is active or resting.
Italian scientists Virna Cerne, Ombretta Polenghi and their team at Dr. Schär SPA in Italy are at the forefront of gluten-free baked goods development, producing an array of pastas and baked goods that allow people with gluten intolerance to enjoy a versatile and tasty diet without compromising their dietary restrictions. The unique selling point of the company's food products is the quality of the dough used to make them.
The invention of pulmonary surfactants by Swedish laboratory physician Tore Curstedt at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm marked a milestone in saving the lives of early-born infants suffering from respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), a lung condition that was the leading cause of death among newborns for decades.
Joan Daemen, Pierre-Yvan Liardet and their team of Belgian and French cryptographers pioneered double-key smart-card encryption, a process for making smart-card networks more secure. Previously, the prevalence of these pocket-sized, plastic cards with computer chips embedded in them, coupled with the vulnerability of the so-called "master cards" used to create them, had left hundreds of thousands of cardholders susceptible to cyber fraud. To rectify this, the Belgian cryptographers designed a much stronger encryption algorithm.
The invention of paper-based transistors by Portuguese scientist Elvira Fortunato and Rodrigo Martins at the New University of Lisbon offers a cost-saving and energy-efficient alternative to silicon chips. Applications in daily life include biosensors, "smart" product packaging, networked shipping labels and animated billboards.
The invention of a new medical diagnostic method known as magnetic particle imaging (MPI) by German physicists Bernhard Gleich and Jürgen Weizenecker at Philips Research Laboratory in Hamburg holds the promise of diagnostic imaging to be performed in real time with unique features.
The invention of "bionic" knee and ankle prostheses by American biophysicist Hugh Herr at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) not only allows amputees to pursue fully mobile lifestyles, but even lets them compete as world-class athletes.
A team of Danish researchers developed a method for storing ammonia in solid form by binding it with a compacted metallic salt. Their innovation opens up possibilities for the energy-rich chemical to be used as a safe hydrogen source for fuel cells and hydrogen-powered cars. More importantly, it can be employed as part of systems that remove as much as 99% of the mono-nitrogen oxides from diesel engine exhaust.
American chemical engineer Robert Langer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has pioneered a new therapeutic approach to fighting cancer by encapsulating anti-cancer drugs within biodegradable plastics. The technique has proven to be the perfect weapon against aggressive cancers and other ailments.
The invention from researcher Helen Lee at the University of Cambridge is an instant blood diagnostic kit developed for resource-poor regions of the globe, allowing for on-the-spot detection of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and chlamydia. Through fast, simply-to-read results, the kits are helping to track and better treat some of the world's deadliest diseases.
Paulraj's idea was to incorporate the space between antennae and receivers as part of the overall transferal equation - thinking about how buildings, ceilings, trees and any other objects influenced radio signals - and create a phenomenon called multipath propagation. By exploiting this, along with clever modulation techniques, he was able to incorporate at least two antennae and two receivers into wireless or Wi-Fi transmission. Instead of receiving two scrabbled signals, the receivers are able to recognise each individual signal thanks in part to the slightly different path it takes.
The invention of two devices for measuring intracranial pressure and blood flow by Lithuanian scientist Arminas Ragauskas enables fast and safe diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, strokes, glaucoma and brain tumours. Ragauskas' novel measuring devices are important tools for treating intracranial injuries, which are among the world's deadliest killers.
The novel hydropower turbine invented by Czech civil engineer Miroslav SedláÄek at the Czech Technical University in Prague unlocks potential for electricity generation from waterways with low velocity such as brooks and small streams, thereby opening up a wide range of previously unexplored sources of sustainable energy.
The world's roads and motorways are much safer thanks to inventions by automotive engineer Anton van Zanten. His breakthrough achievement, the electronic stability control system (ESC), also known as ESP (electronic stability program), is now mandatory in a number of countries, and is second only to the seatbelt in saving lives in car crashes.