European Inventor Award

Jury members

The European Inventor Award jury consists of inventors who are all former finalists. To judge proposals, the independent panel will draw on their wealth of technical, business, and intellectual property expertise. In 2022, Wolfgang M. Heckl served as the jury chair.


Wolfgang Heckl

is Director General of the Deutsches Museum in Munich, a position he has held since 2004. He holds the Oskar von Miller chair for science communication at the Technical University in Munich where he researches molecular self-organisation in the nanotechnology field. Professor Heckl received the Communicator Prize from the German Science Foundation and was awarded the European Descartes Prize for Science Communication. He is the author of more than 200 peer review publications and published a bestselling book entitled Die Kultur der Reparatur in 2013.

Esben Beck

is an inventor, entrepreneur, and founder of Stingray Marine Solutions. Born and raised on the Arctic coast of Norway, the self-taught inventor spent some time as a production line developer at Norway's largest brewery and later as a medical diagnostic instrument developer before turning to marine technology. Today, he leads the development of intelligent aquaculture solutions that help fish farmers produce food more sustainably. Beck's pioneering Stingray system combines image recognition software with high-precisions lasers to identify and kill minutes parasites attached to farmed salmon and trout, as well as monitoring fish welfare 24/7.

Virna Cerne

is a Senior Director Research & Development at Dr. Schär, a global manufacturer of food products for special nutritional needs. Following her master's degree in Food Science and Technology from the University of Udine, Cerne first worked on fruit-based food preparations in Germany before beginning her career at Dr. Schär. For two decades, she has worked on the development of food products for those with special nutritional needs such as coeliac disease, renal disorders and keto diet. Her inventions help patients live healthier lifestyles while giving them tasty dietary alternatives.

Elvira Fortunato

is a professor at the New University of Lisbon and a Fellow of the Portuguese Engineering Academy. She joined the university in 1995 and has led pioneering research into paper electronics such as transistors, sensors, batteries, displays, antennas, and solar cells. Fortunato has also published over 500 scientific papers and received numerous awards, including Portugal's prestigious Pessoa Prize, the European Commision's Horizon Impact Award 2020, and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) GREE Women in Engineering Award 2020.

Carmen Hijosa

is founder and Chief Creative & Innovation Officer at Ananas Anam, a manufacturer of sustainable textiles. At the age of 25 she co-founded her first company, a manufacturer of luxury leather items, but later switched career paths to focus on developing a sustainable material made from waste pineapple leaves. She also returned to studies and received her PhD at 62 years old. Today, Dr Hijosa's textile provides pineapple farming communities with an additional revenue stream and is sought after by leading fashion brands around the globe.

Jean-Luc Issler

is a Senior Expert and Senior Advisor at CNES Radio Frequency (RF). For over 30 years, he has been involved in the development of many innovative space borne RF systems in Europe, for transmissions, navigation and spectrum monitoring. Issler was a member of the European team which developed the signalling technology for Galileo, Europe's global navigation satellite system (GNSS). He has received several accolades including the AAAF Astronautic Prize and the EADS Science and Engineering Prize of French Academy of Sciences.

Ursula Keller

is a professor at ETH Zurich in the Ultrafast Laser Physics research lab and co-founder of several companies. Her development of ultra-fast lasers has given science, industry and the medical community an instrument of unprecedented precision. In a long and distinguished career, she has received many accolades including the 2019 IEEE Edison Medal, the 2018 IEEE Photonics Award, the 2017 Weizmann Women and Science Award, the 2015 Optical Society's Charles Hard Townes Medal, the 2013 LIA Arthur L. Schawlow Award, the 2004 Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis and the 2022 Swiss Science Price Marcel Benoist

Richard Palmer

is an entrepreneur and innovation consultant. He obtained a degree in mechanical engineering before beginning his career at DuPont, working with polymers. Palmer later obtained a master's from the Royal College of Art, which helped him add creative thinking to a series of entrepreneurial projects. Since then, he has founded several successful companies and was awarded o2 Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007. He works extensively with start-ups helping them with their growth strategy and raising capital and is often consulted as an innovation and entrepreneurship expert by the media.

Bo Pi

is Chief Technology Officer at Goodix Technology Inc., a company that provides semiconductor-based solutions for smart devices, IoT applications, and automotive electronics. Pi completed a bachelor's degree in physics at Fudan University, in Shanghai, China, before moving to Michigan in the United States for a PhD in physics at Michigan State University. He worked at and co-founded several companies before joining Goodix in 2015. Dr Pi has played a key role in developing technologies that are now used in smartphones worldwide.

Carles Puente

is a co-founder of Ignion and Fractus, two pioneering companies in the antenna field. For over 25 years, Puente has been the lead inventor of antenna technology that has been adopted globally by the mobile phone industry. He is a professor at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and teaches courses on technology and patent management at several leading business schools. Dr Puente was named Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum and awarded the IST Grand Prize by the European Commission.

Manfred Stefener

is the Vice President Fuel Cell Systems at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. With a doctorate in chemical engineering, Stefener is a prolific inventor and entrepreneur in the fuel cell industry. During a career spanning almost 30 years, he has co-founded several companies and led research and development at established manufacturers. He was recognised in the TUM Entrepreneurs of Excellence prize in 2011, is regularly consulted as an industry expert in by the media, and delivers keynote presentations worldwide.

Laura van't Veer

is Chief Research Officer and the co-founder of Agendia, a molecular diagnostics company focused solely on breast cancer. She is full professor of Laboratory Medicine at the University California San Francisco. Over the past 20 years, she has conducted pioneering molecular oncology research and published over 300 scientific publications. Her work has helped medical professionals make more accurate diagnoses and therefore offer better treatment options to patients. Dr. van ‘t Veer has received several accolades, including the ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award, an EU 2014 Women Innovator Award, the 2017 ECCO Clinical Research Award, a 2020 Giants of Cancer Care Award.

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