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Brussels, 28 April 2010

European Inventors of the year 2010– The most inventive minds in Europe

Bioplastics, football-shaped molecules, GPS technology, hydrogen fuels cells and three-dimensional scanning systems - the fields covered by the winners of the European Inventor Award 2010 range from ecology and nuclear physics to information systems and satellite-based navigation. The European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Commission today honoured the five prizewinners from Germany, Switzerland, the USA and Canada at a gala ceremony in Madrid under the presence of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Asturias.

Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “The ‘European Inventor of the Year awards’ highlight that Europe continues to be leading in providing breakthrough inventions. These are striking examples how technical innovation and marketing strategies can successfully interact for the benefit of the economy. Moreover the lives of millions of people around the world have been improved again.”

The success of these inventions is an incentive to intensify our future efforts to maintain the quality of European patents as an effective instrument in the protection of innovation", said EPO President Alison Brimelow.

The prize recognises inventors and innovations that have made a significant and lasting contribution to technical progress in Europe and beyond and thus have strengthened Europe's economic position. The European Inventor of the Year Award was jointly instituted by the European Commission and the European Patent Office (EPO).

There are four categories:

Lifetime achievement

Wolfgang Krätschmer (Germany) who discovered a whole new field of research in physics, laying the foundations for the creation of new materials.


Albert Markendorf (Switzerland) and Raimund Loser (Germany). Their 3D scanning and measuring system opened up a new level of accuracy in industrial measuring systems and revolutionised the field.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)/research

Jürgen Pfitzer and Helmut Nägele (Germany). With their Arboform liquid wood they made a breakthrough in the sustainable use of renewable resources.

Non-European countries

Sanjai Kohli and Steven Chen (USA). Thanks to their work, GPS systems can now also be used commercially and are a part of our everyday lives.

Ben Wiens and Danny Epps (Canada) who developed electrochemical fuel cells which are now a commercially successful alternative to fossil fuels.

For more information, see the portraits of the winners and the description of their inventions in MEMO/10/154

Among the array of innovation awards, the European Inventor of the Year stands out not only because of the quality and prominence of the winning researchers, but also because of its unique selection procedure and geographical span. In selecting the award winners, an independent and high-profile international jury was able to draw on the expertise of the EPO and of patent examiners from national patent offices.

This is the fifth time that the highly regarded innovation prizes have been awarded by the European Patent Office in conjunction with the European Commission.

The awards, which are purely symbolic and involve no material recompense, honour inventive individuals and teams whose pioneering work provides answers to the challenges of our age and thereby contributes to progress and prosperity. Nomination proposals can be submitted by the public and by patent examiners at the European Patent Office and Europe's national patent offices, and the winners are chosen from among the nominees by a high-calibre international jury.

To find out more about the European Inventor Award 2010 and the winners:

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