European Inventor Award 2021

The European Patent Office (EPO) announced the 15 inventors and inventor teams shortlisted as finalists for the 2021 edition of the European Inventor Award. The annual innovation prize, now in its 15th year, recognises outstanding inventors who have made an exceptional contribution to technology, society, and economic growth.

The European Inventor Award runs annually to mark patents that have had a significant impact in each of the following five areas: “Industry”, “Research”, “Non-EPO countries”, “SMEs” and “Lifetime achievement”. The 15 finalists are chosen from a selection of nearly 400 inventors.  There is one winner in each category with an additional sixth category the Popular Prize, which is selected by the public.

This year, due to the pandemic, the event will run online on the 17th of June 2021. The 15 finalists in the five categories are:



Marco Donolato and team (Italy/Denmark) – Magnetic nanoparticles to diagnose disease 

 Family number: 58174700 (US2016153974 AA)

The above patent is a test that was developed by Marco Donolato, an Italian physicist, and his team.  This test detects infectious diseases such as Dengue fever, Zika and SARS-CoV-2. Marco Donolato commercialised this product through the company that he cofounded, ‘BluSense Diagnostics’. The test detects infectious disease and is simple to use.



Non-EPO countries 

Sumita Mitra (USA/India) – Restoring smiles with nanomaterials 

Family number: 28293542 (US2002004544 AA)


The above patent is a nanomaterial-based dental filler created by Sumita Mitra, an Indian-American chemist. The new composite filler simulates the look of natural teeth while being stronger and more wear-resistant than existing fillers on the market.  Mitra invented the first dental filling material to include nanoparticles in the 1990s, and her idea has since been employed in over 1 billion restorations around the world.




Carmen Hijosa (Spain) – Turning pineapple leaves into a sustainable alternative to leather 

Family number: 46418379 (US2013149512 AA)

The above patent is a plant waste-based textile by Carmen Hijosa, a Spanish Designer and Entrepreneur, who has created a versatile material that is used by manufacturers all over the world as a replacement for leather.

Her groundbreaking textile is made from pineapple leaves which is waste material and has a lower environmental impact than leather from animals. It is also both cruelty-free and vegan.




Lifetime achievement

Karl Leo (Germany) – Advances in organic semiconductors  

 Family number: 29177806 (US2006033115 AA)

The above patent is an advancement in organic semiconductors by Karl Leo, a German physicist. Karl revolutionised the electronics industry by providing smartphones and other electronic devices with enhanced displays.  His groundbreaking research with organic semiconductors resulted in the invention of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are now found in everyday device screens. In 2002, Karl was awarded the Leibniz Prize, Germany’s highest scientific achievement.

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