About the award
About the Award
People with a passion for discovery drive innovation. Without their inquisitive minds and desire for new ideas, there would be no inventive spirit and no progress. The European Inventor Award pays tribute to inventors who transform their ideas into solutions that address some of the greatest challenges of our time. It is a celebration of the inventive spirit, the individual contributions of talented inventors, and the European patent system that protects invention and encourages innovation.
The EPO launched the Award in 2006 to give inventors the recognition they deserve. And, like every competition, it acts as an incentive for others.
At the Award ceremony taking place in Valencia, we will announce the winners in our five categories, the Popular Prize and the Young Inventors Prize. Registration for the livestream will open soon!
European Inventor Award winners receive striking trophies in the shape of a sail. As a lasting symbol of exploration and ingenuity, the sail shows how inventive ideas can propel humankind to uncharted shores. German industrial designer Miriam Irle conceived the original design and each year the trophy is crafted with new materials.
The 2022 trophy represents a chain reaction of dominoes that nudge each other. Brick architectural facades inspired the design: depending on their position and orientation, the bricks control the light flow and shape the shadows. Each trophy features a unique constellation of bricks and when placed next to one another, they contribute to a larger work of art. The trophy is 3D printed and crafted from regionally sourced quartz sand.
The European Inventor Award jury consists of inventors who are all former finalists. To judge proposals, the independent panel will draw on their wealth of technical, business, and intellectual property expertise. In 2023, Wolfgang M. Heckl is the jury chair.
Wolfgang Heckl is Director General of the Deutsches Museum in Munich, a position he has held since 2004. He holds the Oskar von Miller chair for science communication at the Technical University in Munich where he researches molecular self-organisation in the nanotechnology field. Professor Heckl received the Communicator Prize from the German Science Foundation and was awarded the European Descartes Prize for Science Communication. He is the author of more than 200 peer review publications and published a bestselling book entitled Die Kultur der Reparatur in 2013.
Nuno Correia holds a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Porto and a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Nottingham. After his studies, Correia completed a post-doc at the Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (INEGI) in Porto. In 2006, he became director of the Materials and Composite Structures Unit at INEGI.
Victor Dewulf is the co-founder and current CEO of Recycleye, a company that uses advanced machine learning, computer vision and robotics to develop solutions for the global waste management industry. Victor completed a bachelor's in civil engineering and a master's in environmental engineering before beginning his PhD, which focused on applying computer vision to waste. Dewulf’s accolades include the BP Centurion Award, the Letitia Chitty Centenary Memorial Prize and selection for the 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 list for Social Impact.
Nuria Espallargas is a professor at the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) . She has twenty years of research experience in surface engineering, chemistry and tribology. Since 2011, she has led the NTNU’s Norwegian Tribology Centre. Her recent research focuses on environmentally acceptable lubricants and green lubricant additives. In 2014, she co-founded the spin-off Seram Coatings to commercialise ThermaSiC, a ground-breaking thermal spray ceramic coating.
Joachim Fiedler studied at the University of the Arts in Berlin and worked as a professional cellist in several orchestras and ensembles. His earliest inventions, such as a magnetic bow clamp, aimed to solve problems unique to musicians. In 2007, he established Fidlock GmbH to further develop magnetic-mechanical fasteners and expand the product line up. Today, his fasteners are used in a range of products from bags, bike helmets and bottles to shoe closures and chest strap clips for child bike seats.
Eileen Ingham studied biochemistry and microbiology at the University of Leeds studying, where she went on to obtain her doctorate in immunology. Later, Ingham became Professor of Medical Immunology at the university, a position she has held since 2000. As a champion of women in science, Ingham has been recognised by the Suffrage Science scheme, which celebrates women in science for their achievements and their ability to inspire others.
Peter Holme Jensen is a protein chemist and founder of Aquaporin, a company that develops natural, sustainable water treatment solutions. He founded Aquaporin in 2005 and currently serves as chief innovation officer. Jensen holds a master’s degree in biochemistry and completed a PhD in structural biochemistry. He worked as an assistant professor and later as a project manager at a biotechnology company before turning his attention to water treatment.
Ursula Keller is a professor at ETH Zurich in the Ultrafast Laser Physics research lab and co-founder of several companies. Her development of ultra-fast lasers has given science, industry and the medical community an instrument of unprecedented precision. In a long and distinguished career, she has received many accolades including the 2019 IEEE Edison Medal, the 2018 IEEE Photonics Award, the 2017 Weizmann Women and Science Award, the 2015 Optical Society's Charles Hard Townes Medal, the 2013 LIA Arthur L. Schawlow Award and the 2004 Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis
Jane ní Dhulchaointigh is the inventor of Sugru, a mouldable glue listed in TIME magazine’s "50 Best Inventions of the Year" in 2010. During her product design studies, she had the idea to inspire a new generation to repair and create by inventing a new malleable elastomer that can fix anything from toys to shoes to appliances. Sugru launched in 2009 and is used by a community of fixing enthusiasts all around the world who share their fixes online to encourage each other, supporting the growing repair movement and challenging throwaway culture.
Laura van't Veer is Chief Research Officer and the co-founder of Agendia, a molecular diagnostics company focused solely on breast cancer. She is full professor of Laboratory Medicine at the University California San Francisco. Over the past 20 years, she has conducted pioneering molecular oncology research and published over 300 scientific publications. Her work has helped medical professionals make more accurate diagnoses and therefore offer better treatment options to patients. Dr. van ‘t Veer has received several accolades, including the ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award, an EU 2014 Women Innovator Award, the 2017 ECCO Clinical Research Award, a 2020 Giants of Cancer Care Award.
Zhentian Wang is an Associate Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, dedicated to developing X-ray imaging methods for biomedical and material science. Dr. Wang has been working for more than 10 years at Paul Scherrer Institute and ETH Zurich, Switzerland, where he developed X-ray phase contrast imaging methods for breast cancer detection. Dr. Wang co-founded GratXray AG in 2017 which aims to bring phase-contrast breast CT to the market. He has won the Dalle Molle Prize 2012 and Swiss Technology Award 2017.