Brussels, 05 Nov 2002
Helge Sander, the Danish Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, and Erkki Liikanen, Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, have described this year's IST Prize as the most successful in its history.
The IST Prize is designed to reward groundbreaking products that represent the best of European information society technology (IST) innovation. At a ceremony during the IST 2002 conference in Copenhagen on 4 November, three Grand Prizes were awarded to the best of this year's 20 winners.
Mr Liikanen, who presented the Grand Prizes along with the Danish Minister, said that the 2002 competition was 'the most encouraging ever', and highlighted the fact that 90 per cent of the winning projects were developed by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which, he said, prove that in ICT innovation, SMEs 'are the rule, not the exception.'
The three projects judged the most innovative, with the greatest potential market value and capacity to generate jobs, were selected to receive Grand Prizes.
The first winner was German company MRC Systems, for their KonRad application. This is a super-fast software product which optimises radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients. The Grand Prize jury said that KonRad, already in use in over 100 hospitals, would 'enable an outstanding improvement in the cure of tumours.'
The Swedish company Decuma scooped the second prize for its handwriting recognition software, which allows users to input Latin, Chinese or Japanese text into any portable device. The chairman of the jury, Thierry Breton, said that he felt sure that Decuma's application would become a commercial success.
The final winning product, Adapto, was a popular choice with delegates in Copenhagen as it was developed by Danish company Oticon. Adapto is an advanced digital hearing instrument which detects and enhances human speech in noisy surroundings, a key improvement in hearing aid technology. The device was inspired by research into how the human brain detects and processes speech.
Mr Breton praised all of the other 17 winning entries who were not selected for a Grand Prize, saying that in his eyes, 'all of them came in a close fourth.' The three winners each received the IST trophy 'le profile retrouver', and a cheque for 200,000 euro.
Perhaps more significantly, each of the winning projects will receive publicity and generate interest from investors. Many previous Grand Prize winners have gone on to enjoy great commercial success, and this year's successful entries are all hoping that that trend is set to continue.
Helge Sander welcomed the 'many great ideas and inventions on display,' and said that the winning projects not only reflected the presence of many highly creative companies in Europe, they also represented 'innovations that will have a positive impact on society.'
The 20 winners were selected from a total of 437 entries, the highest number in the eight year history of the prize, and in all, countries were represented in the competition.
For further information, please consult the following web address: http://www.ist-prize.org