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.
Derived from the idea of the chain reaction of dominoes that nudge each other, the Award 2022 consists of "dominoes" made of sand. The structure is inspired by architectural facades made of bricks, which gain or lose density depending on their position and orientation, thus allowing more or less light to pass through and generating shadows. Each Award has a different constellation of bricks. If all the Awards are placed next to each other in a certain order, a coherent dynamic of the bricks can be seen.
The material of the European Inventor Award 2022 is quartz sand from a regional source, which was shaped in a 3d printing process.
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.