Meet the finalists
The European Inventor Award honours the individuals whose inventions impact our lives. Thanks to these pioneers, our world is becoming safer, smarter and more sustainable.
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Dutch engineer Jan van der Tempel has made offshore transfers safer, more efficient and reliable with his motion-compensating gangway. The platform connects moving ships to offshore facilities, similar to a boarding ramp that joins an aeroplane to an airport gate. By countering wave motion even in hazardous conditions, his platform has enabled over six million workers to be safely transferred and is used by offshore operators worldwide.
Serbian-American bioengineer Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic opened new horizons in regenerative medicine by developing a way of growing new tissue ex vivo (outside the body) using the patient's own cells. Vunjak-Novakovic's ground-breaking approach offers a safer, more precise and less intrusive facial reconstruction method and holds promise for replacing damaged lung and heart tissue.
For US entrepreneurs Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, the plastic crisis presented a challenge to create a sustainable, high-performance and economically viable packaging alternative. Having seen how mushroom mycelia binds organic waste in nature, they invented a new class of degradable biomaterial that can be moulded into almost any shape.
Sea lice severely impact salmon farm populations across the globe. To put an end to this parasitic problem, self-taught inventor, Esben Beck, has developed an underwater robot capable of repelling the threat using image recognition, artificial intelligence and lasers. Over 250 of his patented units are keeping watch over Norwegian fisheries, autonomously locating parasites, zapping them and safeguarding fish without using chemicals.
Nature was the inspiration for Dutch inventor Rik Breur’s anti-fouling wrap. Like a sea urchin’s prickly surface, this environmentally friendly alternative to toxic paint prevents the growth of algae, barnacles and mussels on boat hulls, and improves fuel efficiency by up to 40%.
Spanish inventors Antonio Corredor Molguero and Carlos Fermin Menéndez didn’t break the mould – they totally reinvented it. Their unique method of producing specially shaped concrete blocks to protect harbours can reduce breakwater construction costs by between 15% and 45% - and offers coastal areas better protection.
What started as a simple sketch led Austrian inventors and business men Klaus Feichtinger and Manfred Hackl to reshape plastic recycling. Their patented Counter Current technology means that a wider variety of plastic waste can now be turned into pellets, ready for industrial reuse and indistinguishable from new plastics.
French immunologist Jérôme Galon developed a diagnostic tool that helps medical staff predict the chances of recovery and risks of relapse in cancer patients based upon the strength of their immune response. Immunoscore® uses digital images of tumour samples and advanced software to measure the number of positive immune cells found at tumour sites. Its results have improved the accuracy of cancer prognosis and helped tailor therapies to individual patients.
Austrian physicist Maximilian Haider improved the image resolution of electron microscopes by over five times, solving a 60-year-old scientific puzzle and revealing single atoms for scientific scrutiny. The electromagnetic corrective lens that he patented is now used in 90% of transmission electron microscopes worldwide.
Polish software engineer Marta Karczewicz dedicated her career to inventions that enable fast, high quality streaming. Named as inventor in almost 130 granted European patents, Karczewicz's technologies have transformed the video entertainment industry and made video streaming on laptops and mobile devices available to a wider audience.
German proteomics pioneer Professor Matthias Mann is revealing tell-tale signs of medical conditions even before patients fall ill. To do so, he has developed techniques to rapidly map the proteins produced in human cells. His inventions aim to help clinicians better predict, diagnose and treat illnesses.
After years of trial and error in both their kitchen and the lab, British material scientists and passionate snowboarders Richard Palmer and Philip Green developed a material which is flexible but stiffens on impact. The unusual properties of dilatant liquids to absorb and disperse energy made this invention perfect for a wide range of protective applications.
When it comes to cancer treatment, early detection is key. Italian molecular cell biologist and oncologist Patrizia Paterlini-Bréchot has developed a quick, non-invasive method that can find a single circulating tumour cell in a 10-millilitre blood sample – the equivalent of roughly one in 50 billion blood cells.
Spanish scientist Margarita Salas Falgueras invented a faster, simpler and more reliable way to replicate trace amounts of DNA into quantities large enough for full genomic testing. Her invention based on phi29 DNA polymerase is now used widely in oncology, forensics and archaeology.
Israeli computer vision expert Amnon Shashua together with his team - Erez Dagan, Yoram Gedalyahu, Gaby Hayon, Elchanan Rushinek, Shai Shalev-Shwartz and Gideon Stein - developed an advanced driver assistance system that uses a single-lens camera and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to spot and avoid traffic hazards in real time. Thanks to this invention, roads worldwide are now safer to drive.