Every year the European Patent Office grants awards to outstanding inventors in the following categories:
- Small and Medium Enterprises
- Non-European Countries
- Lifetime Achievement
- Popular Prize.
Members of the public are invited to nominate inventors as are the EPO's 4,000 patent examiners (see the FAQ and eligibility rules and conditions). Entries for all the categories except the "Popular Prize" are judged by a distinguished, international jury which includes Peter Marsh of the Financial Times and Erno Rubik, the inventor of Rubik's cube. The awards are presented at an annual ceremony which takes place in a different European city every year.
This year's award ceremony took place in Amsterdam on 28 May in the presence of HRH Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands. The winners were:
- Industry: Claus Hämmerle and Klaus Brüstle of Austria for a damper system that facilitates the smooth closing of furniture doors, drawers and wall cabinets;
- Small and Medium Enterprises: Pål Nyrén of Sweden for a far faster, less complicated and less time-consuming method to sequence DNA strands that uses the photo-reactive properties of chemicals and DNA enzymes to identify DNA sequences;
- Research: Patrick Couvreur, Barbara Stella, Véronique Rosilio and Luigi Cattel of France and Italy for coated inside minuscule capsules of anti-cancer drugs which can be transported straight to diseased cells in the human body, where they take action without harming healthy tissue along the way;
- Non-European Countries: Ajay V. Bhatt, Bala Sudarshan Cadambi, Jeff Morriss, Shaun Knoll and Shelagh Callahan of the USA for one of the most ubiquitous computer advances since the computer processor, the universal serial bus (USB) which has greatly simplified a previous maze of competing plug designs, allowing effortless plug-and-play functionality and simultaneous connection of many devices;
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Martin Schadt of Switzerland for LCD technology; and
- Popular Prize: José Luis López Gómez of Spain for a series of inventions relating to an ‘independent guided' wheel design rather than a standard axle which greatly improves safety and comfort.
The 2014 award ceremony will take place in Berlin and details of the awards ceremonies and winners in previous years winners can be found here.