The driving force behind the innovation process is people - people with a passion for discovery. Without their inquisitive minds, their quest for new ideas and their creativity, there would be no inventive spirit and no progress. As one of the most prestigious competitions of its kind, the European Inventor Award pays tribute to the creativity of inventors the world over, who use their technical, scientific and intellectual skills to make a real contribution to technological progress and economic growth and so improve people's daily lives.
Launched by the EPO in 2006, the award gives inventors the recognition they deserve. And, like every competition, it acts as an incentive for other potential winners. It helps to protect ideas and encourage innovation.
Winners of the European Inventor Award are presented with a trophy in the shape of a sail. An enduring symbol of exploration and human ingenuity, the sail recalls how an inventive idea can propel humankind to uncharted shores. The trophy was conceived by German industrial designer Miriam Irle and is crafted with new materials every year, highlighting the ever-changing nature of innovation.
Any member of the public can nominate an inventor for the European Inventor Award. The selection process relies on the hard work of EPO experts and an independent international jury that evaluates innovations not only on their technological originality but also on their economic and social impact.
1. CALL FOR PROPOSALS
Proposals from any technical field are invited from the general public, national patent offices and EPO staff. The open call for proposals runs from around April until September.
2. EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS
A panel of EPO experts rigorously evaluates the proposals to ensure they fulfil all formal requirements and represent significant inventions: To become a finalist of the European Inventor Award, an inventor must have been granted a European patent and not only have achieved significant technological progress in their field, but also benefitted the economy and enriched our society.
3. JURY DECISION
At the jury meeting, a shortlist of around 40 candidates is carefully evaluated and each juror allocates points for their first, second and third choices in the five categories. After two rounds of voting and elimination, three finalists (including one winner) remain in each category.
4. FINALISTS ANNOUNCEMENT
The EPO officially announces the names of the fifteen finalists to the public around 6 weeks before the Award ceremony. Hundreds of news outlets begin reporting and speculating on who the winners might be.
5. POPULAR PRIZE VOTING
In parallel to the announcement of the finalists, the public is also invited to vote for their favourites to win the Popular Prize. The prize is awarded to the finalist who receives the most votes online in the run-up to the ceremony.
6. WINNERS ANNOUNCEMENT
The winners in the five categories and the Popular Prize are announced at the Award ceremony in June.