The European Patent Office (EPO) Holds Public Voting for the 2017 European Inventor Award Popular Prize

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U.S. Finalists Include Medical Imaging Pioneers James G. Fujimoto and Eric A. Swanson; and Cardiac Surgeon Waleed Hassanein

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This year’s finalists come from twelve countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Morocco, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the United States.

The European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that voting is now open for its 2017 European Inventor Award Popular Prize. Members of the public are invited to cast their vote for their favorite inventor from among the 15 finalists. The winner will be announced when the EPO presents this year’s award ceremony in Venice on June 15th. The ceremony will be broadcast live on Innovation TV as well as on the EPO's Facebook page.

The European Inventor Award is presented annually by the EPO. While the winners of the award’s five categories, “Industry,” “Research,” “Non-EPO countries,” “Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” and “Lifetime achievement,” are selected by an international jury, the public alone decides who takes home the Popular Prize.

Voting is easy! An online vote open to everyone runs until June 11th at and All 15 finalists and their inventions are presented on the EPO website, so the public can pick their favorite. Voters will be entered into a drawing, giving them the chance to win a prize. One vote can be cast every 24-hours until the closing date.

This year’s finalists come from twelve countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Morocco, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the United States.


In the Non-EPO countries category the finalists are: James G. Fujimoto (USA), Eric A. Swanson (USA) and Robert Huber (Germany), for high-resolution medical imaging technology (OCT) that enables doctors to diagnose cancer, glaucoma, heart disease and other ailments at an early stage without invasive probing; US heart surgeon Waleed Hassanein, for a system that extends the time window in which donated organs can be transported and transplanted; and Moroccan biology professor Adnane Remmal, for a technique that boosts the efficacy of antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections with essential oils from local plants.

In the Industry category, the 2017 European Inventor Award finalists vying for the public’s vote are Swedish audio engineer Lars Liljeryd, for inventing a novel audio compression technique now used in most of our PCs, televisions and phones; the Italian team consisting of Giuseppe Remuzzi, Ariela Benigni and Carlamaria Zoja, for treatments for chronic kidney disease; and the Dutch-Austrian team of Jan van den Boogaart and Oliver Hayden, for developing a fast, accurate, computer-based blood test for malaria.

In the category Research, contenders for the Popular Prize are: Dutch molecular geneticist Hans Clevers, for his lab-grown human organs enabling drug testing safely outside of the body; the European team comprising Laurent Lestarquit (France), José Ángel Ávila Rodríguez (Spain), Günter W. Hein (Germany), Jean-Luc Issler (France), and Lionel Ries (Belgium/France), for the invention of radio signalling technologies ensuring that Europe’s global navigation system Galileo offers the highest possible positioning accuracy; and French immunologist Sylviane Muller for the first targeted treatment to halt the progression of autoimmune disease Lupus.

In the Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) category, the three finalists in the running are: Dutch chemist Gert-Jan Gruter, for plant-based plastic bottles; German chemist Günter Hufschmid, for a “super sponge” made of micronized wax to clean up chemical and oil spills; and UK inventor Steve Lindsey for a novel rotary air compressor that can cut energy consumption by up to 20%.

In Lifetime achievement, the following inventors have a chance of winning the Popular Prize: Swiss engineer and entrepreneur Elmar Mock, for developing an ultrasonic plastic-welding technique that revolutionized watch manufacturing and gave birth to the Swatch watch; Italian microbiologist Rino Rappuoli for launching novel vaccines using genomics that have become standard immunizations against a large number of infections including meningitis and diphtheria; and German molecular biologist Axel Ullrich for developing a new generation of anti-cancer drugs.


The European Inventor Award is one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the EPO in 2006, it honors individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering work provides answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times. The winners are selected by an independent jury consisting of international authorities in the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research, who examine the proposals in terms of their contribution towards technical progress, social development, economic prosperity and job creation in Europe. The general public decides on the winner of the Popular Prize. The 2017 award ceremony will take place in Venice on June 15th.

With more than 7,000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralized patent-granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 42 countries, covering a market of around 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.

Additional information, photos and videos about the European Inventor Award 2017 can be found in the EPO Media Center.

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Peter Gorman
Shepard Fox Communications
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Rainer Osterwalder