Cutting-edge innovations under assessment in Finland

Candidates for the Millennium Technology Prize were under assessment by an international selection committee in Helsinki.

The world’s latest and most remarkable innovations in technology were under thorough scrutiny in Helsinki during mid-February. Since last autumn, the International Selection Committee of the Millennium Technology Prize has been assessing innovations nominated for the award this year.

“The quality of the participants has become extremely high and we have many outstanding candidates,” says Jarl-Thure Eriksson, Chairman of the eight-member committee.

The main criterion for the winning innovation is its ability to enhance the quality of people’s lives in a sustainable manner. Dr. Ayao Tsuge, from Japan, tells us that the competition’s focus on social impact makes it a great honor to be a member of the selection committee.

“The significance of the Millennium Technology Prize is not limited to research. It is important for this award to promote social development and sustainable growth globally,” Tsuge says.


Selection gets harder and harder

The International Selection Committee has been particularly busy now that the Millennium Technology Prize will be awarded for the seventh time. A record-breaking 79 innovations were submitted as candidates this year. The number of submissions doubled from the last round in 2014.

Particularly the Finnish scientific community was exceptionally active in submitting nominations this time, the Chairman of the Committee notes with satisfaction.

“This year’s active participation proves that the Millennium Technology Prize is gaining acceptance amongst the Finnish scientific community. It is very clear that we want and need the full support of the domestic scientific community,” Jarl-Thure Eriksson states.

The Committee, consisting of eight prominent experts, has received assistance in the screening process from a Finnish Pre-Selection Committee that drafted a short list of the cutting-edge innovations. However, the final selection process is still the toughest.

For Ayao Tsuge, this is his third round on the Committee. According to him, choosing one innovation superior to others gets harder year by year.

“I wish we could select two winners this year. The variety of fields represented poses a challenge for the selection process.”


Only the winner will be announced

Members of the Committee can’t give any comment on the agenda of their meetings or the innovations they discuss. Everyone involved in the nomination process is bound by professional secrecy to ensure the confidentiality of submissions even after the winner is announced. Hence, only the winner will be announced to the public on 24 May 2016.

Secretary of the Committee and CEO of Technology Academy Finland Juha Ylä-Jääski tells us that it is a global practice to keep submissions secret with similar awards.

“We do not want to announce innovations that are nominated but not awarded. Nominations are honored by keeping them secret forever.”

After careful consideration, the International Selection Committee will make a proposal for the Millennium Technology Prize winner during this spring.

“We’ve had some great debates and I am almost certain that we will present a unanimous proposal,” Chairman Eriksson states.

The final decision on the winner will be taken by the Board of Technology Academy Finland.


Photo: The International Selection Committee of the Millennium Technology Prize 2016. From left, Dr. Ayao Tsuge, Dr. Jaakko Astola, Dr. Hans-Joachim Freund, Prof. Merja Penttilä, Dr. Craig R. Barrett, Dr. Riitta Hari, Sir Peter Knight, Dr. Jarl-Thure Eriksson and Dr. Juha Ylä-Jääski.


Text and photo: Laura Manas

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