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And the next winner is…

The biennial Millennium Technology Prize, the world’s biggest technology award, recognises and celebrates humane technology designed to enhance people’s quality of life. A total of 55 individuals have been nominated for the 2010 Prize and the winner will be announced in June 2010.

All three winners of the Millennium Technology Prize – Sir Tim Berners- Lee, Shuji Nakamura, and Robert Langer – met for the first time in October 2009 at a technology symposium in Washington D.C. and updated HighTech Finland on their current research and future plans.

Although the World Wide Web recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary and we tend to think of the ‘Web’ as synonymous with life in the twenty-first century, only 20% of the world actually has Internet access. As the inventor of the Web and the winner of the first Millennium Technology Prize in 2004, Tim Berners-Lee is looking forward to a time when the rest of the world can log on.

He has long been an advocate of openness on the Internet and is particularly excited about seeing more government data online. Making more data available related to traffic, weather, and public safety will fuel new innovations, he believes.

“2009 was a year of pushing to get data held by governments onto the Web,” he says.

Shuji Nakamura, the winner of the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize and the inventor of blue and white LEDs, is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara – where his team is now focusing on improving the energy efficiency of LED lighting and developing green laser diode technology.

The three winners of the Millennium Technology Prize: Sir Tim Berners-Lee (left), Robert Langer, and Shuji Nakamura. The names of the finalists for the next prize will be made public in April 2010 and the winner will be announced in Helsinki in June 2010.

“A Japanese company has created a green laser diode using our technology,” he says. “As red, blue, and green laser diodes are now available, we will be able to incorporate small projectors into mobile phones or produce laser TVs with beautiful colours.”

The 2008 winner, Robert Langer, and one of the fathers of tissue engineering, heads up MIT’s Langer Lab, the world’s largest biomedical engineering laboratory. One of his team’s current projects involves investigating new ways of transporting drugs into human cells using vectors like nanoparticles to target cancer cells, such as those found in prostrate and ovarian cancer, while ignoring healthy ones.

“There are so many exciting new things going on around the world right now, and the future of nanotechnology in particular is very bright,” says Langer.

Technology Academy Finland

The Millennium Technology Prize, Finland’s tribute to life-enhancing technological innovation, is worth €1 million to its recipients, which are selected by Technology Academy Finland, on the basis of a recommendation by an international selection committee.

Established as a partnership between Finnish industry and the Finnish state, Technology Academy Finland promotes scientific research and innovation aimed at creating new technologies that have a positive impact on people’s quality of life and strengthen humane values.

> Jaana Kymäläinen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)