Brussels, 18th March 2009
Breakthrough inventions such as the commercial use of solar energy, powerful long-life batteries for hybrid cars, a successful malaria drug, and the "fastskin" swimsuit inspired by shark skin are among the nominations for the Inventor of the Year 2009 award. The European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Commission today announced the twelve nominees for this year's European Inventor of the Year awards. Their inventions aim at addressing many of today's toughest challenges in the areas of energy, environment and health. The winners in the four categories of industry, Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)/research, non-European countries and lifetime achievement will be announced in Prague on 28 April 2009.
European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry, stated: "This competition shows that Europe has the potential for truly groundbreaking inventions, which we urgently need today to solve global problems and to help our economy back on a growth path. All nominees are evidence of Europe’s innovative strength and competitiveness."
Alison Brimelow, President of the European Patent Office added: "In many areas of technology, patents play an essential role in helping innovation to flourish. This role must be strengthened by a consistent policy of quality in the European patent system. This is the only way to guarantee that appropriate and effective patent protection will still be available for important inventions in the future."
All of the nominated inventions are in keeping with the spirit of the European Inventor of the Year awards, which symbolise the force of human innovation as the basis for technical, economic and social progress. The nominees are:
The "European Inventor of the Year" stands out among the many prizes for innovation due to its geographical scope and unique selection procedure. The independent international jury can rely on the results of an open competition as well as on the expertise of examiners at the national patent offices and the EPO when selecting its nominees. The jury chose from among successful inventions patented by the EPO before January 2004. The award is purely symbolic and does not include a cash prize or other material reward.
The "European Inventor of the Year" is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the EPO and was launched in 2006. This year's awards ceremony will be held in Prague on 28 April 2009 in conjunction with the European Patent Forum/PATINNOVA 2009 Conference that will look under the title "IP in rapidly developing industries - does it stimulate innovation?" at challenges posed to Europe's intellectual property system to supports innovation in rapidly developing technologies.
Previous winners include Peter Grünberg (2006), who has since won the Nobel Prize for physics, and Eric de Clerq (2008), the developer of a life-saving anti-AIDS drug cocktail.
You can find out more at: http://www.epo.org/about-us/events/epf2009.html