15 researchers are fighting for the European Inventor Award 2021

The winners will be announced in an all-new format on 17 June

Photo: EPO Thr 15 inventors or inventor teams from around the world that have been nominated for this year’s European inventor Award

The European Patent Office (EPO) is hosting the first-ever digital edition of the European Inventor Award ceremony on Thursday, 17 June, which viewers will be able to watch at http://www.inventoraward.org in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The ceremony, an important event in the science and innovation calendar, will give audiences around the globe an opportunity to learn about outstanding inventors from Europe and beyond who have devised ingenious solutions to some of today’s most pressing problems.

The 15 Award finalists have made significant advances in fields ranging from diagnostics and ultrasound imaging to biometrics, sustainable plastic production and wildlife protection.

However, the awards will be presented to 6 winners - one for each of the five categories: Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries, and Lifetime achievement, in addition to the winner of the Popular Prize, who is selected by the public. Through short films and interviews, and featuring elements of extended reality, the action-packed ceremony will highlight the stories of these remarkable individuals and teams who through their creativity, hard work and perseverance have pushed the boundaries of innovation to develop inventions that are improving our daily lives.

As noted by the EPO, the 15 finalists of the European Inventor Award 2021 are:

In the Industry category, the finalists are the Norwegian inventor Per Gisle Djupesland, who has developed a device for administering medicine via the nose using the patient’s own exhaled breath, German chemists Christoph Gürtler, Walter Leitner and their team who found a way of using carbon dioxide to make greener plastics and Dutch engineer Jan van der Tempel who is now making transfer to and from offshore platforms safer for people.

In Research, the final list of innovators nominated includes Marco Donolato (Italy/Denmark) and his team that have invented a device that uses magnetic nanoparticles to detect dengue fever and other infectious diseases, Robert N. Grass (Austria) and Wendelin Stark (Switzerland) for their robust method of DNA-based data storage and French researchers Mathias Fink and Mickael Tanter who invented a novel ultrasound imaging method using shear waves.

From the non-EPO countries nominated are the Chinese researchers Bo Pi and Yi He, who have enabled fingerprint sensors in our smartphones to detect both fingerprints and the presence of blood flow – making them much more secure. Among the others are Kim Lewis and Slava S. Epstein (USA) who have developed a device that enables scientists to cultivate previously inaccessible microbes for drug development and the Indian-American chemist Sumita Mitra, who has invented a nanomaterial-based dental filler that has brought us more robust, durable and aesthetically pleasing fillings.

As for the nominated in the category SMEs, the list features Spanish entrepreneur Carmen Hijosa who has created a new material made of pineapple leaves as an alternative to leather, British brothers Ben and Pete Kibel who have created an innovative fishing hook cover that can prevent commercial longline fishing from killing seabirds and Swedish innovators Henrik Lindström and Giovanni Fili who have developed improved flexible solar cells to power our electronic devices.

For the award for a Lifetime achievement will fight German scientist Metin Colpan, who has invented efficient tools to analyse nucleic acids, paving the way for rapid and effective genetic data analysis. Along with him is nominated another German researcher - the German physicist Karl Leo whose work has led to the development of highly efficient, cost-effective organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) now found in the screens we use every day. Last but not least is the Serbian-American biomedical engineer Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic who has devised a novel approach to tissue engineering, opening new horizons in regenerative medicine.

The European Inventor Award is one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the EPO in 2006 and now in its 15th year, it honours individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times. In the meantime, the public selects the winner of the Popular Prize from among the 15 finalists through online voting.

The finalists and winners are selected by an independent jury consisting of international authorities from the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research who examine the proposals for their contribution towards technical progress, social development, economic prosperity and job creation in Europe.

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