European Inventor Award 2019: Recognition to exceptional inventors from Austria, France, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain

The European Patent Office (EPO) today honoured exceptional inventors from Austria, France, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain with the European Inventor Award 2019 at a ceremony in Vienna. The laureates are recognised for their outstanding achievements in plastic recycling, cancer diagnostics, rechargeable battery technology, marine antifouling and DNA testing.

“The imagination, intellect and expertise on display at this year’s European Inventor Award are inspirational; all of the finalists and winners are pushing boundaries and achieving new heights in their respective disciplines,” said EPO President António Campinos at the Award ceremony. “These inventors’ stories also show how patent protection can help turn innovation into market success. What’s more, intellectual property rights are fuelling the European economy – industries that make high use of patents, trademarks and design rights contribute significantly to GDP, trade and job creation in Europe.”


2019 European Inventor Award Winners


Held at the Wiener Stadthalle, the Award ceremony, now in its 14th edition, was attended by some 600 guests from the fields of intellectual property, politics, business, science and academia. The finalists and winners were selected by an independent, international jury from a pool of hundreds of inventors and teams of inventors put forward for this year’s Award. The recipient of the Popular Prize was chosen by the general public through an online vote in the run-up to the ceremony.

The laureates of the European Inventor Award 2019 are:

Klaus Feichtinger and Manfred Hackl (Austria): Higher-performance plastic recycling

By thinking in a new direction, these Austrian inventors reshaped plastic recycling. With their approach, waste plastics of many types can be turned into high quality pellets for new products. Today, more than 6,000 of their machines in operation worldwide produce over 14.5 million tonnes of plastic pellets annually. Further information


(L) Klaus Feichtinger and (R) Manfred Hackl (Austria)


Jérôme Galon (France): Immunoscore®, a clearer cancer test

The French immunologist’s diagnostic tool assesses the risk of relapse in cancer patients. It uses digital images of tumour samples and advanced software to measure immune response. Galon’s invention is already in use at clinics around the world to improve the accuracy of prognosis for patients with colorectal cancer. Further information


Jérôme Galon (France)


Non-EPO countries
Akira Yoshino (Japan): Lithium-ion battery and its evolution

This Japanese scientist is the father of the lithium-ion battery (LIB). His rechargeable batteries power nearly five billion mobile phones, laptops and other portable devices, as well as electric vehicles. For decades he has been dedicated to continually improving LIBs. Further information


Akira Yoshino (Japan)


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
Rik Breur (Netherlands): Marine antifouling fibre wrap

Inspired by a sea urchin’s prickly surface, this Dutch inventor’s antifouling fibre wrap is an environmentally friendly alternative to toxic paints on ships and marine structures. Algae, barnacles and mussels just slide off it, saving boats up to 40% on their fuel consumption.
Further information


Rik Breur (The Netherlands)


Popular Prize and Lifetime achievement
Margarita Salas Falgueras (Spain): DNA amplification for genomics

The Spanish molecular genetics pioneer invented a faster, simpler and more reliable way to replicate traces of DNA into quantities large enough for full genomic testing, using the enzyme phi29 DNA polymerase. Her invention is now used widely in oncology, forensics and archaeology. Further information


Margarita Salas Falguers (Spain)


About the European Inventor Award

The European Inventor Award is one of Europe’s most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the EPO in 2006, it honours individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times. To qualify for the Award, all proposals have to meet specific criteria, including the requirement that the inventor had to have been granted at least one European patent for their invention by the EPO. The finalists and winners in five categories are selected by an independent jury of international authorities in the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research who examine the proposals in terms of their contribution towards scientific and technological progress, society, economic prosperity and job creation in Europe. The winner of the Popular Prize is chosen by the general public from among the 15 finalists by online voting in the run-up to the ceremony. This year’s 15 finalists were selected from hundreds of proposals put forward by members of the public, national patent offices around Europe, and EPO staff.

About the EPO

With nearly 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 centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world’s leading authority in patent information and patent searching.