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. As one of the world’s oldest inventions, the sail is a reminder of the ingenuity of humankind – visionary individuals who use a creative idea to forge new ground. The striking design of the trophy was realised by German industrial designer Miriam Irle and is made from a different material each year.
For the 2021 Award, the trophy has been crafted from slices of acrylic glass called Greencast®. The material exemplifies a sustainable circular economy. Manufactured entirely from 100% pre-and post-consumer acrylic glass, it can be recycled repeatedly, making it an excellent green choice.
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.
Proposals from any technical field are invited from the general public, national patent offices and EPO staff.
A panel of EPO experts rigorously evaluates the proposals to ensure they fulfil all formal requirements.
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.
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.
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.
The winners in the five categories, the Popular Prize and the Young Inventors prize are announced at the Award ceremony in June.