The number of non-European companies seeking to protect their inventions by registering a European patent is growing at an unprecedented rate. In 2014, about two thirds of patent filings to the European Patent Office (EPO) originated from outside of Europe – a clear indicator of Europe’s attractiveness as a technology marketplace.
Charles W. Hull
Transforming light into matter with the 3D printer
There are not many people whose ingenuity puts them in a category with Henry Ford - Charles Hull is one of them.
Electrical engineer, Founder of 3D Systems, the printing group
Creating virtually any plastic object from scratch sounds like something from science fiction, but Charles “Chuck” Hull’s 3D printer has made this a reality. The American scientist has developed the stereolithography method, which creates objects with a UV laser by depositing wafer-thin layers of liquid resin until the desired shape is accomplished. Hull, who will be inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame on 21st May, invented 3D printing back in 1983, when he had the idea to stack synthetic resin into laminate layers and use UV light to sear the layers into a form. As his employers did not have the means to develop the idea, Hull founded 3D Systems to take it to fruition. Hailed as a revolution for industrial manufacturing, 3D printing has widespread potential across numerous areas, including creating prototypes, ready-to-use products, as well as medical applications; it is already possible to reproduce bones and individual organs using this method.
Masahiro Hara & Takayuki Nagaya
Linking the everyday to the virtual world with the data-enhancing QR code
It’s what makes inventors’ hearts skip a beat: An improvement that ends up as an integral part of everyday life.
Electrical engineer, Managing Director at Denso Wave, the automotive supplier and Toyota subsidiary (Hara)
It began as a basic attempt to upgrade an in-house logistics system, but ended up revolutionising the barcode. The black-and-white squares developed by Masahiro Hara and his team are now a common sight on billboards and product packaging worldwide, providing quick access to data and multimedia content. The QR (Quick Response) code was developed when Hara’s employer needed to embed more data in a scannable code, used to track production components. Matrix barcodes contain up to 350 times more data than the standard barcode, and also allows users to access it faster. The Japanese scientist’s QR code has quickly become part of everyday life far beyond the factory, by also labelling hospital patient records and biological samples, moving passengers around an airport, and accessing data in museums or marketing billboards. Free to use for anyone, QR codes simply requires a smartphone and an app to create a quick and easy link from the physical to the virtual world.
Cary L. Queen, Harold E. ("Barry") Selick
Ushering in a new age of targeted cancer treatments with antibody humanisation
Thanks to the invention of Cary Queen and Barry Selick, the human body can now recognise and combat diseases that it had not even detected previously.
Mathematician and co-founder of Galaxy Biotech (Queen); Biologist and CEO of Threshold Pharmaceuticals (Selick)
Targeted cancer therapy is ringing in a new era of cancer treatments, thanks to the work of Cary Queen and Harold “Barry” Selick. The molecular biologists have developed a technology for creating immunoglobulins with the ability to attack disease without being targeted by the body’s defence systems. This is among the most promising methods in the fight against cancer, as well as other diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. Queen and Selick reached their breakthrough in 1988-89 while working together at Protein Design Labs, where they produced an antibody that attached itself to the antigens produced by the disease, but avoided being identified as an intruder by the body’s immune system. The American scientists have since become recognised as pioneers in antibody humanisation, the process that makes targeted therapy possible. At least nine cancer drugs have been approved based on this method, including Herceptin and Avastin, which have benefited over a million cancer patients.