20 June 2019
The European Patent Office (EPO) today honoured exceptional inventors from Austria, France, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain with the European Inventor Award 2019 at a ceremony in Vienna. The laureates are recognised for their outstanding achievements in plastic recycling, cancer diagnostics, rechargeable battery technology, marine antifouling and DNA testing.
"The imagination, intellect and expertise on display at this year's European Inventor Award are inspirational; all of the finalists and winners are pushing boundaries and achieving new heights in their respective disciplines," said EPO President António Campinos at the Award ceremony. "These inventors' stories also show how patent protection can help turn innovation into market success. What's more, intellectual property rights are fuelling the European economy - industries that make high use of patents, trademarks and design rights contribute significantly to GDP, trade and job creation in Europe."
Held at the Wiener Stadthalle, the Award ceremony, now in its 14th edition, was attended by some 600 guests from the fields of intellectual property, politics, business, science and academia. The finalists and winners were selected by an independent, international jury from a pool of hundreds of inventors and teams of inventors put forward for this year's Award. The recipient of the Popular Prize was chosen by the general public through an online vote in the run-up to the ceremony.
The laureates of the European Inventor Award 2019 are:
Klaus Feichtinger and Manfred Hackl (Austria)
Higher-performance plastic recycling
By thinking in a new direction, these Austrian inventors reshaped plastic recycling. With their approach, waste plastics of many types can be turned into high quality pellets for new products. Today, more than 6 000 of their machines in operation worldwide produce over 14.5 million tonnes of plastic pellets annually.
Jérôme Galon (France)
Immunoscore®, a clearer cancer test
The French immunologist's diagnostic tool assesses the risk of relapse in cancer patients. It uses digital images of tumour samples and advanced software to measure immune response. Galon's invention is already in use at clinics around the world to improve the accuracy of prognosis for patients with colorectal cancer.
Akira Yoshino (Japan)
Lithium-ion battery and its evolution
This Japanese scientist is the father of the lithium-ion battery (LIB). His rechargeable batteries power nearly five billion mobile phones, laptops and other portable devices, as well as electric vehicles. For decades he has been dedicated to continually improving LIBs.
Rik Breur (Netherlands)
Marine antifouling fibre wrap
Inspired by a sea urchin's prickly surface, this Dutch inventor's antifouling fibre wrap is an environmentally friendly alternative to toxic paints on ships and marine structures. Algae, barnacles and mussels just slide off it, saving boats up to 40% on their fuel consumption.
Margarita Salas Falgueras (Spain)
DNA amplification for genomics
The Spanish molecular genetics pioneer invented a faster, simpler and more reliable way to replicate traces of DNA into quantities large enough for full genomic testing, using the enzyme phi29 DNA polymerase. Her invention is now used widely in oncology, forensics and archaeology.