• European Patent Office recognises outstanding inventors at ceremony in Paris
• London-based Jane ní Dhulchaointigh and team winner in SMEs category for invention of world’s first mouldable glue
• Swiss physicist Ursula Keller honoured in Lifetime achievement category for significantly advancing ultrafast pulsed laser technology
• Agnès Poulbot and Jacques Barraud† (France), Jens Frahm (Germany) and Esther Sans Takeuchi (United States) winners in the other three categories
• Following a public vote, Erik Loopstra (Netherlands) and Vadim Banine (Netherlands/Russia) take home the Popular Prize
Paris, Saint-Germain-en-Laye/Munich, 7 June 2018 – The European Patent Office (EPO) announced the winners of the European Inventor Award 2018 at a ceremony held today in Paris, Saint-Germain-en-Laye attended by some 600 guests from the areas of politics, business, intellectual property and science. Among the honoured inventors are London-based Jane ní Dhulchaointigh and team who took away the prize in the “Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)” category. The product designer is also one of altogether four women singled out for their achievements, 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 15 finalists who were shortlisted 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.”
London-born mouldable glue impressed international jury
While studying product design at the Royal College of Art in London in 2003, Irish-born Jane ní Dhulchaointigh realised that as a product designer she was potentially contributing to the world's waste problems rather than solving them: “So, I asked myself: could I create something that would help people fix and improve and reimagine the stuff they already had?” When playing with a mixture of silicone and wood dust, she discovered that the material not only bounced when rolled into a ball but also had strong adhesive properties. Together with her team at London-based company FormFormForm, this initial idea was developed further and resulted in the world’s first mouldable glue with both the adhesive properties of super glue and the pliability, when hardened, of rubber. Named Sugru, after the Irish word for ‘play’, the product enables consumers to successfully repair and personalise everyday items like never before, encouraging them to take a more sustainable approach to possessions and thus, reduce waste.
Outstanding achievements in automotive technology, medical imaging, medical technology and lasers
Winners in the “Industry” category, French inventors Agnès Poulbot and Jacques Barraud† at French tyre manufacturer Michelin developed a 3D tyre-tread design that not only increases tyre durability and performance, but significantly decreases fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. German biophysicist Jens Frahm was recognised for his significant contribution to faster, real-time MRI in the “Research” category: He developed the fast low angle shot (FLASH) scanning technique that accelerated scan speeds, making MRIs practical for clinical application, and his follow-up inventions made it possible for doctors to produce the first-ever MRI videos of human physiology in real time. In the “Non-EPO countries” category, US chemical engineer Esther Sans Takeuchi invented the compact batteries that power most implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs). Her design extends battery life significantly and reduces the frequency of battery replacement surgeries for patients already at risk due to heart problems. Swiss physicist Ursula Keller was honoured in the “Lifetime achievement” category. Her method (SESAM mirror) for turning continuous laser light into ultra-fast laser pulses is the leading technology for commercial ultra-fast lasers that are used in many manufacturing and medical applications. 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, to produce smaller, faster and more powerful semiconductors. They received the most public votes from among the thousands cast online from 24 April until 3 June.
Note to editors: availability of AV and photo materials on 7 June 2018
• High-quality photos and videos from the Award ceremony will be made available on the EPO website (photos starting at 11.30 CET, videos starting at 15.30 CET)
• More information about all 15 European Inventor Award finalists is available in the EPO media centre.
• To watch the ceremony, visit the EPO website, the EPO's Facebook page or use the "Innovation TV" Smart TV app of the European Patent Office.
About the European Inventor Award
The European Inventor Award is one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2006, it honours individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering work provides answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times. To qualify for the award, proposals have to meet specific criteria, including that the inventor had to have been granted at least one European patent for their invention by the EPO. The finalists and winners in five categories are selected by an independent jury consisting of international authorities in the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research, who examine the proposals in terms of their contribution towards technical progress, social development, economic prosperity and job creation in Europe. The winner of the Popular Prize was chosen by the general public from among the 15 finalists by online voting in the run-up to the ceremony. This year's 15 finalists were selected from more than 500 proposals – the highest number ever put forward for the award.
About the EPO
With around 7 000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.
Contacts at the EPO in Munich, Germany:
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