The inventors of the Gardasil HPV vaccine, Professor Ian Frazer and the late Dr Jian Zhou, have won the Popular Prize category of the 2015 European Inventor Award — a prestigious annual award that acknowledges inventors who have made major contributions towards social, technological and economic progress.
Professor Frazer and Dr Zhou were the clear favourites for the Popular Prize, which was decided solely by the public via an online poll. The Queensland-based colleagues received more than 32% of a total of 47,000 votes — more than double the number of votes submitted last year.
Presented by the European Patent Office (EPO) in the heart of Paris, the award was accepted by Professor Frazer and Xiao Yi Sun, Dr Zhou’s widow. Professor Frazer said it was “a great honour” to win the award and to have his team’s research “celebrated by such a highly respected group”.
The other 2015 award winners were:
Lifetime achievement — Andreas Manz (Switzerland) was honoured for the invention of microlab chip technology.
Industry — Franz Amtmann (Austria) and Philippe Maugars (France), together with their teams at Dutch company NXP Semiconductors, received this award for their contribution to the development of near field communication (NFC).
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) — Laura van ’t Veer (Netherlands) was awarded for the invention of a gene-based tissue test that makes it possible to offer targeted treatment for breast cancer.
Research — Ludwik Leibler (France) was honoured for the invention of vitrimers: a new class of plastics with the potential to stem the mountains of plastic waste.
Non-European countries — Sumio Iijima, Akira Koshio and Masako Yudasaka (Japan) received this award for the discovery of carbon nanotubes and the development of a sustainable process to produce them.
“The inventors honoured today have contributed immensely to advancing technology,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli at the award ceremony. “Their inventions improve our everyday lives, create economic value, generate employment and even save lives. The inventiveness and creativity of the award winners highlight Europe’s role as a prime technology region for inventors from all over the world.”