Themes- Jan 24, 2014

Life sciences stormed the nominations for the 2014 Millennium Technology Prize

Nominations for the Millennium Technology Prize increased in 2013 with double the number of candidates in life sciences following the 2012 award to stem-cell pioneer Dr Shinya Yamanaka. The winner of the sixth Millennium Technology Prize will be announced in April 2014.

Millennium Technology Prize winner Dr. Shinya Yamanaka interacting with Millennium Youth Campers in 2012. Photo: Sakari Tolppanen

The Millennium Technology Prize – worth over one million euros – covers all forms of technological and scientific innovations excluding military technologies. In 2012 the biennial prize was split between the fields of IT and biotech. The winners were Linus Torvalds, for his work on the Linux open source operating system, and Shinya Yamanaka, for his work developing a non-embryonic source of stem cells. Dr Yamanaka later won the 2012 Nobel Prize in medicine for this work.

Technology Academy Finland, an independent foundation promoting scientific research and innovation, organises the awards.

The 2014 Millennium Technology Prize Winner will be announced on 9th April 2014, with a prize ceremony in Helsinki on 7th May 2014.

Dr Juha Ylä-Jääski, President and CEO of Technology Academy Finland, says:

“I am delighted to see the Millennium Technology Prize capturing the imagination of the international scientific community, with more and more applications every nomination round. More importantly, the quality and relevance are also increasing every time.”

“The Millennium Technology Prize awards significant innovations. We have a very thorough vetting process. It is absolutely rigorous. It is designed to recognise innovation that advances the quality of life, and that is useful to society.”

“In 2014 the award ceremony is going to be different and bigger. The prize was awarded for the first time 10 years ago and we will also celebrate all previous prize winners and the innovations they produced. We want to gain more visibility for the prize in order to convey the message about the importance of good technology in society.”

The Millennium Technology Prize has a track record in picking scientists who later have gained solid international recognition. The winner of the first Millennium Technology Prize, in 2004, was Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the World Wide Web. In 2006, it went to Shuji Nakamura for inventing the first blue and white LEDs, while in 2008 it went to a biotech pioneer; Robert Langer won for his work on biomaterials and controlled drug release. In 2010, the winner was a chemist, the inventor of dye-sensitised solar cells, Michael Grätzel.

Robust judging process

The International Selection Committee sifts and assesses the nominations according to several important criteria. The main criteria for the Millennium Technology Prize are that the innovation improves the quality of human life, has been applied in practice and it has the potential to generate new applications. Also, the International Selection Committee looks favourably on technologies which promote environmentally sustainable development.

Self-nominations are not permitted, and each individual and their innovation must be supported by at least two distinguished individuals from separate organisations.

The International Selection Committee makes its recommendation for the winner for the Board of Technology Academy Finland who ultimately chooses the winner.

Text: Technology Academy Finland. This article was originally published on the TAF website