MUNICH, June 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The European Patent Office (EPO) today honored two U.S. researchers with the European Inventor Award 2021. Indian-American chemist Sumita Mitra won the innovation prize in the "Non-EPO countries" category for her invention that successfully integrated nanotechnology into dental materials. Serbian-American biomedical engineer and university professor Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic won the Award's Popular Prize, having received the most votes from the public in an online poll. Vunjak-Novakovic, who had been nominated in the "Lifetime achievement" category, opened new horizons in regenerative medicine by developing a way of growing new tissue ex vivo (outside the body) using the patient's own cells.
EPO President António Campinos said: "Sumita Mitra took an entirely new path in her field, and demonstrated how technological innovation, protected by patents, can transform a sector, and in this case bring benefits to millions of dental patients. Her invention remains commercially successful nearly 20 years after its launch – another reason why she is an inspiration to the next generation of scientists."
Commenting on the Popular Prize, EPO President António Campinos said: "This Award underlines how innovation touches the lives of people everywhere in the world. After an incredibly challenging year, public enthusiasm for Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic's invention also reflects a firm optimism that human creativity, passion for innovation and ingenuity will help us move towards a brighter future."
The 2021 European Inventor Award ceremony was held digitally for the first time and was open to the public who tuned in to the event from around the world. The Award, one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes, is presented annually by the EPO to distinguish outstanding inventors from Europe and beyond who have made an exceptional contribution to society, technological progress and economic growth. The finalists and winners in five categories (Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries and Lifetime achievement) were selected by an independent international jury. The Popular Prize is decided by the public, who select their favourite inventor from among the 15 finalists.
SOURCE The European Patent Office