The European Patent Office (EPO) announces that voting is open for the European Inventor Award 2019 Popular Prize. Members of the public are invited to cast their vote for their favourite inventor or inventor team from among the 15 nominated finalists (play short video), among them the Polish software engineer and inventor Marta Karczewicz whose inventions have made it possible to stream high quality video, run video conferences and use virtual and augmented reality on mobile devices.
The winner of the Popular Prize will be announced by the EPO at this year’s Award ceremony in Vienna on 20 June. The ceremony, honouring outstanding inventors from Europe and around the world, will be broadcast live on the EPO’s Innovation TV app and Facebook page.
The European Inventor Award is presented annually by the EPO in recognition of exceptional inventors whose creativity and genius have improved the lives of people around the world. While the winners of the Award’s five categories – “Industry”, “Research”, “Non-EPO countries”, “Small and medium-sized enterprises” and “Lifetime achievement” – are selected by an independent international jury of innovation experts, the public alone decides who will receive the Popular Prize during the Award ceremony.
Voting is easy: An online vote open to everyone runs until 16 June at https://popular-prize.epo.org/. All 15 finalists and their inventions are showcased on the EPO website for the public to pick their favourite. All participating voters will also be entered into a draw, giving them the chance to win an innovative technology gadget: This year, voters can win one of 15 personal air conditioners that humidify, purify and chill air in a sustainable and healthy way. One vote can be cast every 24 hours until the closing date.
This year’s finalists come from 12 countries: Austria, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, the UK and the US.
15 outstanding inventors and teams contending for the Popular Prize
In the Industry category, the European Inventor Award 2019 finalists have been nominated in fields as diverse as plastic recycling, breakwater construction and agriculture. Businessmen and engineers Klaus Feichtinger and Manfred Hackl (AT) invented machines that can turn plastic waste into a more valuable resource by converting it into high quality pellets for new products; inventors Antonio Corredor Molguero and Carlos Fermín Menéndez Díaz (ES) devised a unique concrete mould that makes it faster and easier to build more effective breakwaters from concrete blocks; and Dutch engineers Alexander van der Lely and Karel van den Berg developed a robot that makes milking more “cow friendly”, improves milk yields and helps farmers to manage their operations more efficiently.
In the category Research, the Popular Prize contenders have all contributed to progress in medicine. Immunologist Jérôme Galon (FR) created a tool that assesses the risk of relapse in cancer patients by counting the number of immune cells near tumour sites; researcher Matthias Mann (DE) developed techniques to map all proteins at work in human cells using mass spectrometry – revealing tell-tale signs of disease before a person falls ill; and Italian oncologist Patrizia Paterlini-Bréchot invented a quick, non-invasive and highly sensitive filtering technique that can detect a single circulating tumour cell in roughly 50 billion blood cells, and thus contributes to the early detection of cancer.
In the Non-EPO countries category, the finalists represent a mix of young inventors and experienced researchers. Eco-entrepreneurs Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre (US) grow bio-degradable packaging and other sustainable materials from mushrooms; Amnon Shashua (IL) and his team’s Advanced Driver Assistance System uses a single-lens camera and cutting-edge AI to detect and avoid traffic hazards in real time, making more than 30 million cars worldwide safer to drive; and Akira Yoshino (JP) is the father of the lithium-ion battery that today powers billions of devices around the globe.
The Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) category comprises inventors who are improving aquaculture, marine technology and protective gear. Self-taught Norwegian engineer and entrepreneur Esben Beck developed an underwater robot that uses image recognition, AI and lasers to identify, target and shoot sea lice that attack salmon; Dutch materials scientist Rik Breur manufactures an environmentally-friendly marine anti-fouling wrap that prevents algae and barnacles attaching to boats and makes vessels more fuel efficient; and engineers Richard Palmer and Philip Green (UK) developed a new material that is flexible but hardens on impact and, when incorporated into protective gear, provides protection to sportspeople, motorcyclists, industrial workers and even soldiers.
The finalists in the Lifetime achievement categoryare: molecular genetics pioneer Margarita Salas Falgueras (ES) who invented a faster, simpler and more reliable way to replicate traces of DNA into quantities large enough for full genomic testing; experimental physicist Maximilian Haider (AT) who solved a 60-year-old research problem, improving image resolution in transmission electron microscopes and enabling atomic level imaging; and Polish mathematics genius, software engineer and prolific inventor Marta Karczewicz whose hundreds of inventions have made it possible to stream high quality video, run video conferences and use virtual and augmented reality on mobile devices.