7 June 2018
The EPO announced the winners of the European Inventor Award 2018 at a ceremony today in Paris, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, attended by some 600 guests from the areas of politics, business, intellectual property, science and academia. The winners come from seven countries (France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia and the US), and include four women, the highest number ever in the history of the Award. The annual Award honours individuals and teams who with their inventions have helped to advance technology, further social and economic development, and generate employment. The winners were chosen by an independent international jury from more than 500 individuals and teams of inventors put forward for this year's Award.
"The inventiveness and creativity of this year's European Inventor Award winners highlight Europe's attractiveness as a prime technology region for scientists and inventors from all over the world," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli at the Award ceremony.
"I am particularly pleased to see that this year's edition recognises the strong contribution of women inventors in many fields traditionally dominated by men. Through their achievements all of these individuals have made their mark on a range of industries, and opened up opportunities that others could never have imagined. They are helping to make transportation more environmentally friendly, allowing us to reduce waste and powering life-saving medical implants. Their inventions drive manufacturing and medical processes, enable us to look inside the human body for medical diagnosis and even measure physical laws at the tiniest scales."
The winners of the European Inventor Award 2018 are:
Agnès Poulbot and
Jacques Barraud† (France)
"Auto-regenerating" tyre tread
French inventors Agnès Poulbot and Jacques Barraud developed a 3D tyre-tread design that not only increases tyre durability and performance, but significantly decreases fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The design saves around 3 tonnes of CO2 over 100 000 kilometres of travel and is marketed by French tyre company Michelin, which expects tyres incorporating the auto-regeneration technology to comprise 30% of the company's heavy-duty tyre sales by 2022.
Jens Frahm (Germany)
Faster, real-time MRI
The widespread use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a medical diagnostic tool is thanks in large part to German biophysicist Jens Frahm. He developed the fast low angle shot (FLASH) scanning technique that accelerated MRI scan speeds by a factor of 100 and made MRIs practical for clinical application. He has since brought MRI technology into the video age. Frahm's FLASH platform has been the Max Planck Society's most successful patent asset.
Esther Sans Takeuchi (United States)
Batteries to reset the heart
Chemical engineer Esther Sans Takeuchi invented the compact batteries that power most implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs). Used by millions of patients, ICDs greatly reduce incidence of heart attack by delivering life-saving shocks. Her design extended battery life significantly and reduced the frequency of battery replacement surgeries for patients already at risk due to heart problems. The lithium/silver vanadium oxide battery is just one of Sans Takeuchi's 150 patents, making her one of the US's most prolific women inventors.
Dhulchaointigh and team (Ireland)
Sugru: multi-purpose mouldable glue
Irish product designer Jane ní Dhulchaointigh and her team have developed a malleable multi-purpose glue that combines the strength of a super glue with the pliability of rubber. Named after the Irish word for play, ní Dhulchaointigh's adhesive, Sugru, is the result of more than 8 000 hours of research in the lab and opens up new possibilities to repair and personalise everyday items. Sugru is helping change the way we think about our possessions and the waste generated when we simply discard and replace them.
Erik Loopstra (Netherlands) and Vadim Banine
EUV lithography for smaller, more powerful microchips
Dutch systems engineer Erik Loopstra and Dutch-Russian physicist Vadim Banine were picked by the public in an online poll to receive this year's Popular Prize for their development of extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) manufacturing technology, which uses high-energy lasers to achieve nanoscale details, thereby producing smaller, faster and more powerful semiconductors. Thanks to Loopstra and Banine and their research and engineering teams, the next generation of microprocessors is being produced with European hi-tech. They received the most votes from among the thousands cast online by the public from 24 April until 3 June.
Ursula Keller (Switzerland)
Ultrafast pulsed lasers
Swiss physicist Ursula Keller developed the SESAM mirror, a convenient and practical method for turning continuous laser light into ultra-fast laser pulses. Her method is the leading technology for commercial ultra-fast lasers that are used in many manufacturing and medical applications. Over a 30-year career, Keller has continued to advance laser science through more compact, efficient and powerful designs which are instrumental in fields ranging from scientific research to telecommunications and consumer electronics.