Honouring Europe’s brightest minds

25 May 2011

Last Thursday I had the pleasure to host the sixth European Inventor Award ceremony in Budapest, and to enjoy a splendid event dedicated to technological creativity. That is not just my opinion: it was clearly shared by everyone else present, including the President of Hungary, Pal Schmitt, EU Commissioner Michel Barnier, the Belgian Minister for Industry, Vincent Van Quickenborne, and many heads of national IP offices, prominent industrialists and academics.

As Clive Cookson writes in the four-page supplement published by the Financial Times to mark this event, anyone who thinks patents are boring should have been there. The evening before the ceremony, I had the opportunity to talk to the nominees. I met people who – to mention just a few of the inventions put forward – have helped to revolutionise data transmission over the internet, to improve the health of millions and to make all our lives so much easier. And at the same time they have all retained that humility so typical of scientists, playing down their own contributions and instead praising those of other scientists or their teams. They also all stressed the vital importance of patent protection for their inventions; it has not only helped them to recoup their investment, but has also lent weight and visibility to their inventions.

The press conference held prior to the ceremony left me firmly convinced that all the players involved – Commission, EU member states and European Parliament – are committed to improving Europe’s patent system and its innovation framework generally.

The real highlight of the day was the show put on to announce and celebrate the winners of this year’s awards. Short films, each lasting less than two minutes, presented the individual nominees and gave a comprehensive description of the invention, its economic effects and its impact on our daily lives. At the same time, they showed that patents are much more than just an assemblage of technical and legal terminology – they are about real life! I must also say I was impressed that our international jury succeeded in selecting five winners from the fifteen nominees, all of whom had created impressive innovations representing a major step forward in each category.

I invite you to discover these films and the reports about a great event on our website or on the facebook page “European Inventor Awards”, and, even better, to join us next year when we celebrate the European Inventor Award 2012.

Benoît Battistelli

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