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News Story:

Millennium Technology Prize


Technology Academy Finland starts the final countdown for scientists, universities, research institutes and industrial organisations from around the world to nominate candidates for the sixth Millennium Technology Prize – one of the World’s leading science and technology awards. The nomination period for the prize, which opened on January 14, 2013, closes on July 31, 2013. The Grand Prize Winner(s) will be announced on April 9, 2014.

With a prize pot of at least one million euros, the award is given every two years by Technology Academy Finland (TAF), an independent foundation established by Finnish industry in partnership with government and academic institutions.

The winner(s) of the prize is responsible for an innovation that has changed or has a potential to change people’s lives for the better. The innovations must have been applied in practice and are proven to deliver extensive change now and in the future, stimulating further cutting edge research and development in science and technology. The prize can be awarded to a single individual or to a team and is open to innovators of all nationalities and to those working in all fields of technology apart from military technology.

The Millennium Technology Prize has a track record of picking scientists that go on to major international prominence.  During its life the Millennium Technology Grand Prize has been awarded to six Grand Prize winners, all of whom are now recognised internationally. 

The most recent winners of the prize are Linus Torvalds and Shinya Yamanaka, who were awarded in 2012. Torvalds initiated the free open source operating system Linux that runs on many smartphone and tablet devices, and Dr Yamanaka pioneered non-embryonic stem cell research to develop treatment for illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and spinal injuries. After he won the Millennium Technology Prize, Dr Yamanaka went on to be awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Juha Ylä-Jääski, President and CEO of the Technology Academy Finland, said:

"Now there are just over five short weeks left before nominations close. I would urge all the scientists, universities and institutes eligible to take part to turn their attention to considering who they believe is most worthy of receiving this distinction, while there is still time to participate.

"Since the Millennium Technology Prize was founded 11 years ago it has celebrated the contribution of the world’s greatest and most gifted innovators, those whose enormous gifts of invention have led to wide-ranging and profound improvements in people's living conditions.  This has been through developing free and open communication technologies that link communities around the world, delivering cost efficient and sustainable sources of energy, or pioneering new methods of delivering drugs that treat life-threatening illnesses.

"While the processes of awarding a technology prize like this are rigorous and judged by scientific experts, it stimulates innovation by attracting funding, sparking public interest and furthering the cause of a greater and deeper understanding of science. First class nominations are the foundation of all that the Millennium Technology Prize has stood for over more than a decade, and I am delighted that all the signs are that this is happening again.”

TAF partners with leading Finnish companies, government and academic organizations in promoting the prize.

The prize is celebrated for its robust vetting and judging process, run by experts in the field. The task of sifting and assessing the nominations falls to the International Selection Committee made up of eight world-class scientists. The Committee members are selected by the Board of Technology Academy Finland based on proposals made by Aalto University.

The Selection Committee members assess nominations according to several important criteria.  Firstly, an innovation must already have shown that it can have a beneficial influence on a large number of people. Secondly it must promote sustainable development. Thirdly, the nominees must be planning to continue developing their cutting-edge research themselves. Finally, self-nominations are not permitted – candidates must be nominated by science and engineering academies, universities, research institutes, industrial enterprises and associations.

 The International Selection Committee starts the evaluation process by studying the background material prepared by the nominators. In the next step the Committee, with the support of external experts, carries out its own research on the most promising candidates. Based on the outcome the Committee draws up a shortlist of Laureates for the Board of the Technology Academy Finland. Upon approval from the Board the International Selection Committee further recommends a Winner (Winners) for the Grand Prize, to be finally approved by the TAF Board.