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Next-gen innovators: Meet the Young Inventors Prize finalists for the European Inventor Award 2024

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The Young Inventors Prize celebrates young innovators aged 30 and younger who are addressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals through their inventive solutions. The three inspiring finalists contribute to environmental sustainability, healthcare accessibility and technological advancements for mobility aids. The winner will be announced at the European Inventor Award ceremony on 9 July.

The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced the three finalists for the Young Inventors Prize at the European Inventor Award 2024. The prize celebrates young innovators aged 30 and younger who, with their scientific and technological inventions, aim to address critical global issues set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The three finalists were chosen for their visionary approaches to environmental sustainability, healthcare and accessibility. The Prize showcases their passion, creativity and commitment to building a better future.

Celebrated for the first time in 2022 the Young Inventors Prize encourages the inventive prowess of the younger generation of inventors across different technology sectors and geographical regions. Unlike the candidates of the traditional categories of the European Inventor Award, the Young Inventors Prize does not require candidates to have a granted European patent. The Prize includes a financial incentive to support the winners’ ongoing projects.

The winners of the 2024 edition

The ranking of the three finalists of the 2024 edition of Young Inventors Prize will be determined by an independent jury comprising both former finalists of the European Inventor Award and the Young Inventors Prize. The results will be announced during a hybrid ceremony on 9 July 2024 in Malta, which will also recognise the finalists in the ‘Industry’, ‘Research’, ‘SMEs’ and ‘Non-EPO Countries’ categories of the European Inventor Award. The Lifetime Achievement Award, which has yet to be announced, will also be presented during the ceremony. The event will be broadcast online here.

Innovative young minds taking on global challenges

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Ukrainian Valentyn Frechka, at just 23 years old, is already making significant strides in environmental innovation by developing a method to convert fallen leaves into recyclable paper. This ingenious process not only offers a solution to deforestation but also addresses the carbon emissions typically associated with decomposing leaves. Frechka’s invention has the potential to revolutionise the paper and packaging industry by providing an alternative source of raw materials, thus supporting United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

A 29-year-old scientist from The Netherlands, Rochelle Niemeijer has developed a portable test kit that uses artificial intelligence for the rapid identification of bacterial infections, which is crucial in the fight against antibiotic resistance. This innovative tool is designed to make accurate diagnostics accessible even in remote and resource-deprived areas, enhancing the efficacy of medical treatments and aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being). Niemeijer’s work not only advances healthcare but also ensures that antibiotic treatments are used responsibly and effectively.

Khaoula Ben Ahmed, Ghofrane Ayari, Souleima Ben Temime and Sirine Ayari, a group of 27-28 years old women inventors from Tunisia, have created an advanced wheelchair control system that uses brain signals, voice commands, eye movement, and facial movement recognition to steer the wheelchair. This device significantly enhances the mobility and independence of individuals with severe physical disabilities, exponentially improving their quality of life. Their work contributes directly to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 10 (Reduced Inequalities) by improving the quality of life for disabled persons and integrating innovative technology into personal mobility solutions.

The European Patent Office established the Young Inventors Prize in 2021 to inspire the next generation of inventors. Aimed at innovators aged 30 or below from all around the world, the prize recognises initiatives that use technology to contribute toward the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. The winner will receive EUR 20 000, the second and third placed finalists will receive EUR 10 000 and EUR 5 000 respectively. An independent jury comprising former finalists of the European Inventor Award and the Young Inventors Prize selects the finalists and winner. The EPO will confer the prize at the European Inventor Award 2024 hybrid ceremony on 9 July. Unlike the traditional Award categories, the Young Inventors Prize finalists do not need a granted European patent to be considered for the prize.

The European Inventor Award is one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the EPO in 2006, the award honours individuals and teams, who have come up with solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our time. The European Inventor Award jury consists of inventors who are all former finalists. To judge proposals, the independent panel draws on their wealth of technical, business, and intellectual property expertise. In 2024, the jury is chaired by Wolfgang M. Heckl. All inventors must have been granted a European patent for their invention.

With 6,300 staff members, 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 45 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.

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