Bright ideas from inventors across Europe were recognised at the European Patent Office Inventor Awards 2016 recently.  Teams from Germany, Denmark and France were among those recognised for their innovation, alongside a US winner in the Non-European countries category.

Celebrating 10 years of Innovation

The Awards, which began in 2006, recognise both individuals and teams of inventors whose work seeks to solve significant issues.  An independent panel of judges representing science, academia, business and research examine each entry across a number of tough criteria, ensuring that the winners have indeed demonstrated not just theoretical ingenuity and skill, but have developed something that will have a real impact in the wider world.

The 2016 Winners

There are six categories overall in the Awards:-


Winners: Bernhard Gleich, Jürgen Weizenecker and team (Germany)

This team has been working on a new generation of medical imaging solutions.  The magnet-based imaging method allows the capture of 3D scan images and is currently undergoing pre-clinical trials.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Winners: Tue Johannessen, Ulrich Quaade, Claus Hviid Christensen and Jens Kehlet Nørskov (Denmark)

The Danish team’s work relates to pollution control.  Their business takes solid ammonia and releases it into the exhaust system of diesel engines, where it can reduce the amount of harmful NOx emissions by up to 99%, making diesel effectively an emission-free fuel.  The business works from already-patented inventions.


Winner: Alim-Louis Benabid (France)

Benabid is a physicist and neurosurgeon who has pioneered the use of high-frequency deep brain stimulation to treat neurological disorders such as Parkinson ’s disease.  His method is widely used around the world and has a real and valuable impact on the lives of the more than 150,000 people who have benefitted from it.

Non-European Countries

Winner: Robert Langer (USA)

Langer’s revolutionary cancer treatment delivery system has been licensed to more than 300 pharmaceutical companies.  He invented biodegradable plastics that can be shaped into wafers, filled with appropriate drugs and placed right next to a tumour site to deliver drugs directly and effectively.

Lifetime Achievement

Winner: Anton van Zanten (Germany & Netherlands)

This prestigious award was given to van Zanten for his work on automobile safety.  His inventions have included the electronic stability control system, and other safety solutions, many of which are now mandatory in vehicles across the world.

Popular Prize

Winner: Helen Lee (UK & France)

This award is voted on by the public, and Helen Lee was chosen by a large majority of those who voted.  She has invented diagnostic kits for regions where resources are limited, allowing poverty-stricken areas to test safely and accurately for a range of conditions, including HIV, hepatitis B and chlamydia.  She received 64% of the vote – the highest popular vote since the Awards began.

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