EPO ceremony honours great inventors
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EPO ceremony honours great inventors

Inventors of LCDs, USB, nanotechnology, pyrosequencing, furniture doors and train wheels were recognised at the EPO European Inventor Award 2013 held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands this week.

Martin Schadt

The lifetime achievement award was presented to Martin Schadt of Switzerland (pictured, right), who created the world's first flat-panel liquid crystal display while working at Hoffmann-LaRoche in 1970.

He said that, growing up in a village, he often asked: how do things operate? This curiosity led to him becoming a scientist.

He also said that the use of LCD displays in televisions was mentioned in the first LCD patent, even though such a use of the technology would take a long time to be developed.

Schadt was interviewed on the BBC website.

In the research category, the winners were Patrick Couvreur, Barbara Stella, Véronique Rosilio and Luigi Cattel of Paris-Sud University for their work on nano-capsules that deliver anti-cancer drugs to tumour sites.

Couvreur compared the technology to sending a message in a bottle.

The SME award went to Pål Nyrén of Sweden and his team who invented pyrosequencing, a fast and cheap way of sequencing DNA strands.

Nyren, who compared his invention to fireflies, said he had only set up a company to exploit the technology after failing to find a licensee.

The award for non-European countries went to Ajay V Bhatt, Bala Sudarshan Cadambi, Jeff Morriss, Shaun Knoll and Shelagh Callahan. They developed Universal Serial Bus (USB) technology while working at Intel in the USA.

USB has since become an industry standard, used in 127 different types of device from cameras to PCs.

EIA13 winners

The winners of the industry award were Klaus Brüstle and Claus Hämmerle of Austria, who developed a system to help furniture doors close softly.

Their company now employs more than 5,000 people and there are some 50 patents covering the technology.

For the first time, there was a popular award voted for by the public on the EPO website. People could vote for their favourite inventor from the nominees in all categories.

The winner was Spanish inventor José Luis López Gómez for his work on stabilising train wheels.

The seventh annual European Inventor Award ceremony was held at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam. Guests included Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, European Commissioner Michel Barnier and EPO President Benoît Battistelli.

The nominees and winners (apart from the popular prize winner) were selected by an independent jury following a selection process. All the winners are pictured above with Princess Beatrix. 

Battistelli told Managing IP the ceremony was about recognising inventors who can transform their inventions into market successes: “All the winners say patents are a key element in that. Patents give them the first asset they need to develop their inventions.”

“This is not enough recognised by the media or in education, and this ceremony illustrates with concrete examples what we see in theory – the link between patents and innovation and competitiveness and economic growth,” he added.

More information, including photos and videos of the winners and nominees, is available on the dedicated awards website.

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