“Innovation is key” said European Patent Office (EPO) president Benoît Battistelli in preparation for the 12th annual European Inventor Award. The event took place on June 15th at the luxurious Arsenale di Venezia in Venice, Italy. There were 15 nominees who are arguably some of the most notable scientists, physicians, professors, biologists, and inventors in Europe and the world. The nominees were competing for awards in six categories including research, lifetime achievement, popular prize, industry, non-EPO countries, small and medium sized enterprises.
The European Patent Organisation consists of 38 member states, two extension states and two validation states. Yesterday was the first time a validation state, Morocco, or any African country walked away with an award. The historic award went to the winner of the Popular Prize category; Adnane Remmal for inventing the act of boosting antibiotics with essential oils. At a low cost, his invention aims to alleviate the problem of bacteria resistance especially in developing countries where bacteria has increased exponentially. Upon his acceptance Remmal commented on the award being a victory that is bigger than himself. Since this is the first time Morocco or an African country has won such an award “it will give a lot of hope for young people in third world countries and Africa. They will continue to trust in possibilities,” said Remmal.
Other big wins of the night included winner of the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Category Günther Hufschmid who invented a super-sponge for oil spills, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Category: Rino Rappuoli – Novel Vaccines by Gene Analysis, Winner of the Research Category: Laurent Lestarquit, José Ávila Rodríguez and Team whose invention was radio signals for better satellite navigation. Lestarquit and Rodríguez both agreed that collaboration was extremely instrumental in their invention and were confident that they will soon make the “Europeans have a better navigation system than the U.S.” Other winners included Jan Van Den Boogaart & Oliver Hayden of the industry category who invented rapid Blood Test for Malaria and winners of Non-EPO Countries Category: James G. Fujimoto, Eric A. Swanson, Robert Huber who invented High Resolution Medical Imaging (OCT).
The event was grand with audience members, journalists, and international organizations from all over the world. The awards were also broadcasted on news channels 1 and 2. The jury was made up of twelve renowned experts in the fields of business, politics, academia, and innovation including President of the European Health Parliament Eleni Antoniadou, António Campinos, Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office, and jury chair Mario Polegato who is also an Inventor and Chairman of the Geox Group. Also in attendance were notable officials including Minister of Economic Development of Italy Carlo Calenda.
The host of the awards, EPO President Battistelli, stressed that “inventors are not enough considered in our society” but “we have to develop our creativity and innovation” with the support of patents, calling them “the most effective tool to boost innovation.” Patents demonstrate prestige and attract funding, so this means more awareness to inventors and also more funding to help them create and build tools of the future.