The 2008 European Inventors of the Year were awarded yesterday in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Even if you don't recognize the names of the inventors, you will certainly know their inventions and the contributions those inventions have made to the world during the last 10 to 15 years.
The European Commission and the European Patent Office (EPO) honor inventors that have had a significant impact on people's lives and whose inventions have been patented by the EPO. This year's winners were chosen by a "high-profile" independent jury -- mostly CEO's of major European corporations.
The four categories of awards were: Industry, Small-Medium research institutes, Non-European Inventors, and Lifetime Achievement inventor awards.
The envelope please....
1. Industry Award For Best European Inventor of The Year, 2008: Audi engineer, Germany's Norbert Enning and engineering team.
In 1993, Norbert Enning, and his team of engineers at German car manufacturer Audi Corporation, designed and engineered the first aluminum frame on the Audi R8 sports car, making it the sturdiest, yet lightest and most fuel-efficient petroleum-based car. Everyone in the car industry said it couldn't be done.
2. Small - Medium Research Institute Award For Best European Inventor of the Year, 2008: Optos Corporation founder, Scottland's Douglas Anderson and Team
In 1992, Douglas Anderson's son became blind in one eye after routine eye examination failed to identify that the boy had a detached retina. Mr. Anderson vowed to create a non-invasive, patient friendly, laser examination that would reveal a compete image of the retina in just a few seconds. Since 2000, what is now called the Optos scanning laser ophthalmoscope, that has the capacity to diagnose a host of retinal diseases and abnormalities, has been made available to more that 13 million people in Europe, the UK, Canada, and the U.S.
3. Award for Best Non-European Inventor of the Year, 2008: U.S. bio-engineer Philip S Green.
Phillip S. Green may be called the father of the da Vinci Surgical Robot, a system that allows surgeons to perform microsurgery, using tiny cameras, and miniature robots carrying microtools into the body through small incisions. The surgeon commands the tools, that perform highly accurate movements, while the surgeon observes each movement on an imaging screen. Mr. Green's efforts began in the early 1980's, but it was not until 1999 that Intuitive Surgical introduced the da Vinci Surgical System to the medical community for their use.
4. Lifetime Achievement Award For Best European Inventor: Erik De Clercq, University of Leuven, Belgium
Erik De Clercq made many contributions to modern medicine through discoveries of antiviral treatments, but he is best known for his work in HIV/AIDS. As the developer of the "drug cocktail" that has been assisting millions of AIDS sufferers to lead longer, more fulfilling lives, Dr. De Clercq was honored as "single-handedly help[ing to] overturn the belief that HIV is an incurable plague."
You have to take a deep breath when you review the contributions of these great inventors. They're hard to beat!
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