"European Inventor of the Year" award

Three Germans among the most creative minds in Europe

Presentation of the 2010 European Inventor Award, laudation by the Spanish heir to the throne. © EPA
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For the fifth time, the European Patent Office, together with the European Commission, has been awarded the European Inventor of the Year award. Among the five winners are three Germans who have developed innovations in 3D scanning technology, for the use of liquid wood and in the production of novel carbon compounds.

Bioplastics, molecules with the structure of a football, GPS technology, hydrogen fuel cells and a three-dimensional scanning technique: The winners of the European Inventor Award 2010 have distinguished themselves with environmentally friendly developments, in nuclear physics or with information systems and satellite-based navigation technology. The European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Commission yesterday honored five winners from Germany, Switzerland, the United States and Canada at a gala held in Madrid in the presence of the heirs of the Spanish throne.

The European Inventor of the Year award was co-sponsored by the European Commission and the European Patent Office (EPO). The purely symbolic prize, which is not endowed, honors individual inventors or teams who, through their pioneering work, contribute to meeting the challenges of our time and thus to progress and prosperity within and outside Europe.

Model of a fullerene molecule © EPA

Fullerenes open up new material worlds

The winners of this year's European Inventor Award 2010 are three Germans: The nuclear physicist Wolfgang Krätschmer would receive the award for his life's work. He developed a process for the production of fullerenes, spherical, hollow carbon molecules. Nanoparticles based on these molecules are currently used in many fields, for example as "nanocontainers". They form the foundation for a whole series of completely new materials. (Film)

3D scanner in use EPA

3D scanner and liquid wood

Engineer Raimund Loser and his Swiss colleague Albert Markendorf share the prize in the Industry category for the development of high-resolution 3 D hand-held scanner technology for precise object measurement. They revolutionized industrial metrology and are now in use worldwide. (Movie) display

Jörg Pfitzer and Helmut N gele from the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) developed a novel biocompound, the ighArboform liquid wood, which is also used as a raw material the energy is suitable. They received the Inventor Award in the Research / Small and Medium Enterprises category. (Movie)

GPS and improved fuel cells

In the non-European Inventors category, two Americans and two Canadians received awards. Thanks to the work of Sanjai Kohli and Steven Chen from the USA, GPS systems can now also be used commercially and are part of our everyday lives. Ben Wien and Danny Epps of Canada developed electrochemical fuel cells, which are now a commercially successful alternative to fossil fuels. These successful inventions spur us on to strive even harder for a consistently high quality of European patents in the future, thereby effectively protecting innovations, according to EPA President Alison Brimelow.

Innovations Made in Europe

"The awarding of the European Inventor Award proves that Europe continues to play a leading role in groundbreaking innovation, " said the vice-president responsible for enterprise and industry policy President of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani. "Here we see classic examples of how the interplay of technical innovations and marketing strategies can lead to economic success."

The selection process for the "European Inventors of the Year" prize involves a large number of countries. In determining the winners, an independent international jury was able to draw on the expertise of the EPO and of national patent lawyers. Proposal nominations may be submitted by the public and by patent examiners of the European Patent Office and national patent offices throughout Europe. The winners will then be selected by a distinguished international jury.

(EU Commission, 29.04.2010 - NPO)