4iP News

Kudos to the EPO for putting amazing inventors in the spotlight

15 June 2017

2017 winners of the prestigious EPO Awards announced this morning

“If there is one award ceremony that renews your faith in humanity this is it,” said Audrey Scozzaro Ferrazzini of Qualcomm, a 4iP Council member, on her attendance the EPO’s 12th European Inventor Award ceremony in Venice this morning.

The finalists of the European Inventor Award 2017 on stage at the award ceremony in Venice on 15 June, together with EPO President Benoît Battistelli, Italian Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda, and Jury chairman Mario Moretti Polegato

Once again the EPO has given recognition and important visibility to the tremendous achievements of inventors in Europe and beyond whose dedication and entrepreneurship pushes the boundaries across and between diverse fields of innovation. This award ceremony distinguishes individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times.

Among the landmark inventions being lauded this year is pioneering work on ‘conjugate vaccines’ that has launched a new generation of immunisations, now administered to millions of people worldwide; a solution to the problem of antimicrobial resistance involving the use of essential oils as a booster for humans and also as a supplement in animal feed, replacing antibiotics. CNSR researchers on Galileo, Europe’s global satellite navigation system were given much deserved visibility for pushing this technology to the next level. And there were awards for technologies that improve the detection of eye diseases and the management of oil spills.

Lionel Ries (France/Belgium) and Günter Hein (Germany), winners in the Research category for the Galileo project

Almost all of the award recipients and nominees present at the event had something to say about the role of patents on their ability to invent. We have captured a few comments here.

“Back in the ‘80s when I was an unknown scientist I filled a patent. People asked to use my technology, to fund it … Without the patent system I would never have been able to make it.” Rino Rappuoli (Italy). Novel vaccines by gene analysis. Winner of the Inventor of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“In innovation there is always risk. The largest risk is in commercialisation. There is incredible risk in developing a new technology.” James G. Fujimoto, High resolution medical imaging (OCT). Winner of the award for non-EPO countries.

“Patents are important in terms of protecting ideas. They are necessary to translate an idea into impact.” Eric A. Swanson, High resolution medical imaging (OCT) Winner of the award for non-EPO countries.

Speaking at the event were EPO President Benoît Battistelli and Carlo Calenda, Italy's Minister of Economic Development both of whom highlighted the economic and social importance of patenting.

“These inventors have not only contributed to furthering technological development, their patented inventions have had a major social and economic impact, from life-saving medical advances and materials to protect our environment to satellite navigation technologies that bring us closer together," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli.

“Innovation is becoming an issue that is more and more political. Innovation is related to the every day life of people; it is not limited to technical issues. Alongside the Oscars the EPO Inventor Awards are the most exciting awards ceremony. For SMEs, and we have plenty in Italy, we need to better explain the importance of patents and their use. It is our major challenge.” Carlo Calenda, Minister of Economic Development, Italy.

Videos and other background materials on the award winners and nominees can be found on the EPO website.