Alasdair Poore reports on the European Patent Office's newly announced 2014 inventor awards:
In 2006 the EPO launched the European Inventor Awards. As something under my radar, until a year or so ago, and it is worth highlighting – although of course it competes with many other awards for innovation. Sponsored by the EPO, all the “inventions are protected by a European Patent, which has helped get many of them off the ground”. The awards were announced for this year on 17 June.
Industry: technologies patented by large European companies: the first new effective tuberculosis (TB) drug in 40 years;
SMEs: exceptional inventions by SMEs: a water-purifying membrane coated with aquaporins, which purifies water without consuming large amounts of energy;
Research: exceptional academic research: quick DNA test which can decipher the genetic makeup of individuals within minutes, without the need for lab work;
Lifetime Achievement: of an individual European inventor: Artur Fischer (Germany), with over 1100 applications for patents and utility models including the "Fischer wall plug" for fixing things to walls, the first synchronised photo flash for cameras and his "fischertechnik" toy building sets;
Non-European: outstanding inventors outside Europe who have been granted an EP: 3D printing; and
Popular prize: by public votes – the “Q” code.
Co-incidentally, 4 days earlier, I had been attending the UK’s equivalent for academic research institutions – the PraxisUnico Impact Awards, designed to show how UK universities make a real difference (politicians, please note). Nominees and winners should stand a good chance in further European Inventor Awards, including a technology close to most people hearts, from QMUL – to work out why connected IT systems underperform, and from the University of Oxford, with photovoltaic cells which can be integrated into windows of buildings.