The world would be a very different place if Germany had not given us the printing press, Italy the radio, and the Ukraine the X-rays.

History has been shaped by these inventions, and it is no exaggeration to say that the future of the planet may depend on them.

The European Patent Office (EPO) celebrates the best and most innovative developments in its annual European Inventor Award , which will take place in a virtual ceremony today.

The Young Inventors Award is new for 2022, honoring the creativity and talent of international innovators aged 30 and under. Participation in this category does not depend on a European patent being granted, but rather honors those who work towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by offering technological solutions, helping to shape a better future for humanity.

“Their ingenuity and perseverance are an inspiration to all of us, underscoring the vital role that the next generation of innovators will play in building a more sustainable world,” says António Campinos, President of the EPO.

This year’s Young Inventors Award finalists are Brazil’s Rafaella de Bona Gonçalves, who has developed biodegradable menstruation products to combat poverty in this area; Victor Dewulf from Belgium and Peter Hedley from the UK with an AI-powered waste recognition and sorting system; and the American student Erin Smith, who has developed an application that uses video recordings to detect early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

A virtual ceremony accessible to all

The online event will kick off with a pre-show at 11:30 CEST with an informal discussion between scientific influencers Teresa Arnandis ( @ladyscienceofficial ) and Martin Skadal ( @skadal ), President Campinos, former finalist and jury member Carmen Hijosa, and Baptiste Borowczak, intern in the EPO’s Pan -European Seal program. They will examine emerging technologies, sustainability, innovation, and the role of younger generations in these areas.

There will also be a look at this year’s European Inventor Award finalists competing for prizes in four categories: Industry, Research, Non-EPO Countries and SMEs. In addition, the Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to an inventor with an extraordinary biography and career path; someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to his field, who has saved countless lives.

The awards ceremony will kick off at 12:00 CEST and will honor the finalists, whose work spans the sustainability, health, climate, energy and manufacturing sectors, with initiatives ranging from a robotic exoskeleton for children wearing wheelchairs, to a method of using plants to extract metallic elements from contaminated soil.

They include major health advances, like a therapeutic cancer vaccine, and tools to make everyday life easier, like an easy-open zipper devised by a cellist looking for a one-handed solution to draw his bow.

An independent international jury made up of former finalists has selected this year’s finalists from a long list of candidates proposed by EPO staff, national patent offices from across Europe and members of the public.

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