About the award


European Inventor Award 2012

14 June 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark 

Celebrating the spirit of invention

The driving force behind the innovation process is people - people with a passion for discovery. Without their inquisitive minds, their quest for new ideas and their creativity, there would be no inventive spirit and no progress. As one of the most prestigious competitions of its kind, the European Inventor Award pays tribute to the creativity of inventors the world over, who use their technical, scientific and intellectual skills to make a real contribution to technological progress and economic growth and so improve people's daily lives.

Launched by the EPO in 2006, the award gives inventors the recognition they deserve. And, like every competition, it acts as an incentive for other potential winners. It helps to protect ideas and encourage innovation.

In 2012 the award ceremony will take place on 14 June 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark, in co-operation with the Danish EU Council Presidency, the Danish Patent and Trademark Office as well as the European Commission.

John Starrett, winner of the European Inventor of the Year 2006 in the category New EU Member States


Winners are presented with a trophy shaped like a sail, created by German industrial designer Miriam Irle. One of the world's oldest yet most groundbreaking inventions, the sail is still a symbol of pioneering spirit - a simple technological idea that harnessed natural forces to move man across the oceans for thousands of years.

Each year, a different innovative substance is chosen to make the trophy. Materials used in the past have been aluminium, porcelain, synthetic resin, glass and a type of fibreglass concrete known as fibreC. The 2011 trophy was made of Arboform, a bio-plastic material developed by Jürgen Pfitzer and Helmut Nägele, the winners of the 2010 SMEs award.


Awards are presented in five categories:

  • Industry
  • SMEs
  • Research
  • Non-European countries
  • Lifetime achievement

Selection process

For the first three years, only examiners at the European and other patent offices were invited to propose outstanding inventors for the award. But in 2009, the process was opened up to the general public, so now anyone submit an entry.

The jury

After an EPO panel has narrowed the entries down to a shortlist for each category, carefully checking that the related patents are still valid and all the other competition criteria are met, a high‑profile international jury nominates three inventions from each shortlist.

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