12 June 2015
Yesterday we were delighted to hold the 2015 European Inventor Award ceremony at the Palais Brongniart in Paris to honour some of Europe’s – and the world’s – most dedicated and talented inventors. It was a valuable opportunity for us all to recognise their extraordinary achievements in the fields of innovation and research.
This year, members of the public and staff from national IP offices and the EPO submitted some 450 applications for the award. We were lucky to have had a truly world-class independent jury to nominate fifteen outstanding finalists and, ultimately, choose winners in each of the five categories.
In making their selection, the jury members not only looked at those who have been pioneers in the fields of science and technology, they gave full priority to the social and economic benefits of these patented inventions. It is the combination of criteria and the importance given to the economic and social impact which makes our award so special and relevant.
I would therefore like to thank the men and women of the jury for their difficult and meticulous work. I also offer my warmest congratulations to the finalists and, in particular, the award recipients, all of whose work is nothing short of inspirational. It was a pleasure to be able to present the award to winners such as Laura van ‘t Veer (Netherlands), who has empowered women with her research. She was awarded the prize for the invention of a gene-based tissue test which makes it possible to offer targeted treatment for breast cancer.
The work of those such as Ludwik Leibler (France) will also have a hugely positive effect on the world around us, as his new class of reusable plastics, ‘vitrimers’, is set to reduce waste. It was a privilege – and remains the ultimate aim of the award – to honour their achievements and the work of all those shortlisted, in full view of distinguished guests from politics, research, industry, academia and the media.
This year’s event was particularly special because it was the tenth such iteration of the European Inventor Award, which has grown in importance since its inception in 2006. Media coverage of the finalists has been global and the public cast their votes on an unpresented scale in the Popular Prize category. Almost 47 000 people from around the world voted and named Ian Frazer (Australia) and Jian Zhou (China) as the winners for their vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV).
The increasing engagement with the award by the public has demonstrated that there is a real desire to recognise those who are contributing to society with their phenomenal work. It is our hope that the award continues to grow in stature and that next year’s event will see even more potential recipients nominated.
The achievements of the finalists and winners allow us to demonstrate what can be achieved when talented innovators are supported by a first-rate patent system: pioneering work that delivers social and economic benefits. It is my hope that, just as we are delivering high–quality patents and service to today’s inventors, cost-reductions and simplified procedures ushered in by initiatives such as the unitary patent will tangibly benefit the EIA finalists of tomorrow.
I was delighted that so many were able to join us in Paris to honour the fifteen shortlisted inventors and be there for the presentation of the awards. We look forward to receiving more exceptional nominations for 2016.