23 February 2022
On 16 February, almost 7 800 participants attended the first ever public Tech Day at the European Patent Office. The online event explored a diverse range of sustainable innovation, and how to accelerate the development of technologies of transformation required to sustain planetary health - both human health and the health of our planet.
EPO President António Campinos opened Tech Day 2022 by acknowledging that "when it comes to sustainability, there are challenges. Huge challenges. But we have a patent system that can support the technologies of transformation that will overcome these challenges. We have a patent system that will foster the innovations needed to meet our emissions targets, our recycling and other sustainability goals."
As part of the Office's efforts to raise awareness of the role of the patent system, Mr Campinos highlighted the EPO's plans to create a patent and innovation observatory later this year that aims to inform debate on patent insights and analysis. The launch of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court would also help the EPO offer more support to innovators in Europe, he said.
Philipp Offenberg and Ben Gaddy of Breakthrough Energy delivered the event's keynote on accelerating climate innovation, with a focus on start-ups. They emphasised the urgent need for bold action on supporting innovation to deliver the European Green Deal. During a lively roundtable, leading inventors, analysts and scientists then discussed the transformations that current technology and policy landscapes are undergoing with a view to achieving greater sustainability.
The discussion drew on major recent studies published in partnership between the EPO, whose Chief Economist Yann Ménière was present, and the International Energy Agency, represented on the panel by Energy Technology Analyst Simon Bennett.
Their analysis was complemented by inspiring practice-led insights into materials science from the inventors Jane ní Dhulchaointigh, Managing Director of Sugru, and Christoph Gürtler, Head of Global Industry Academia Cooperations at Covestro Deutschland. The panel was completed by Markus Lienkamp, Chair of Automotive Technology at the Technical University of Munich and moderated by the editor and writer on intellectual property James Nurton.
The dynamic Tech Day 2022 programme concluded with a series of dialogues on sustainable innovation for planetary health, in which innovators and EPO experts discussed areas such as e-waste, green hydrogen, plant-based meat and next-generation vaccines.
A final wrap-up session focussed on how the EPO is responding to the increasing urgency of meeting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Principal Director Communication and EPO Spokesperson Luis Berenguer Giménez began with a reminder of the EPO's new Young Inventors Prize to acknowledge and reward innovators aged 30 or under who are working in the field of sustainability.
Mr Berenguer Giménez was joined by Vice President Corporate Services Nellie Simon, who highlighted the EPO's holistic approach to sustainability, which would help the Office to achieve its aim of carbon neutrality by 2030. Vice President Patent Granting Process Stephen Rowan spoke about how the EPO is making its services more accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as deepening digital dialogue with all applicants and making patent knowledge available to everyone. Finally, Vice President Legal and International Affairs Christoph Ernst emphasised how crucial digitalisation had been for the purposes of continuing to advance international co-operation at a time when it is most needed.