Technology Academy Finland has today declared two prominent innovators, Linus Torvalds and Dr Shinya Yamanaka, laureates of the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize, the prominent award for technological innovation. The laureates, who will follow in the footsteps of past victors such as World Wide Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee, will be celebrated at a ceremony in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday 13 June 2012, when the winner of the Grand Prize will be announced. The prize pool exceeds EUR 1 Million.
Linus Torvalds, Finland/USA
In recognition of his creation of a new open source operating system for computers leading to the widely used Linux kernel. The free availability of Linux on the Web swiftly caused a chain-reaction leading to further development and fine-tuning worth the equivalent of 73,000 man-years. Today millions use computers, smartphones and digital video recorders like Tivo run on Linux. Linus Torvald’s achievements have had a great impact on shared software development, networking and the openness of the web, making it accessible for millions, if not billions.
Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, Japan
In recognition of his discovery of a new method to develop induced pluripotent stem cells for medical research that do not rely on the use of embryonic stem cells. Using his method to create stem cells, scientists all over the world are making great strides in research in medical drug testing and biotechnology that should one day lead to the successful growth of implant tissues for clinical surgery and combating intractable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Yamanaka is specifically cited for his prominent work in ethically sustainable methodology.
The Millennium Technology Prize is Finland’s tribute to life-enhancing technological innovation. The prize is awarded every second year for a technological innovation that significantly improves the quality of human life, today and in the future. It is awarded by the Technology Academy Finland, an independent foundation established by Finnish industry, in partnership with the Finnish state. The laureates were selected by the Board of the Foundation on the basis of recommendations made by the International Selection Committee.
International selection committee has broad technological experience
Eligible nominations have been examined by the International Selection Committee, a distinguished network of leading Finnish and international scientists and technologists. The final decision regarding all the laureates is made by the Board of the Technology Academy Finland on the basis of a proposal by the ISC. The Grand Prize Winner will be announced at a festive ceremony in Helsinki on 13 June 2012.
Linus Torvalds said:
“Software is too important in the modern world not to be developed through open sources. The real impact of Linux is as a way to allow people and companies to build on top of it to do their own thing. We’re finally getting to the point where “data is just data”, and we don’t have all these insane special communications channels for different forms of data.”
Dr. Yamanaka said:
“In the 21st century, medical biology will advance at a more rapid pace than before and personalised medicine will become readily available in the not distant future. iPS cell–derived differentiated cells could potentially treat sickle cell anemia and spinal cord injury. There are already plans to conduct a clinical trial on a few patients with age-related macular disease over the next few years.
“My goals over the decade include to develop new drugs to intractable diseases by using iPS cell technology and to conduct clinical trials using it on a few patients with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes or blood diseases.”
Dr Ainomaija Haarla, President of Technology Academy Finland, said:
“We had many worthy nominations that we deliberated over, but ultimately we narrowed it down to these two candidates who have made such a significant impact in the field of computing and stem cell research. I hope this announcement will lead to added recognition for these extraordinary scientists and the technologies that they have developed. These two men may well be talked about for centuries to come.”
Notes to editors:
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2. For Finnish media enquiries, please contact:
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firstname.lastname(at)technologyacademy.fi, tel. +358 40 8439 438
3. Contacts at Technology Academy Finland
Dr. Tech. Ainomaija Haarla, President and CEO
firstname.lastname(at)technologyacademy.fi, tel: +358 40 716 0703
Chancellor Jarl-Thure Eriksson, Åbo Akademi University, Chairman of the International Selection Committee, firstname.lastname(at)abo.fi, tel. +358 40 5012 570
Further information about the Prize and members of the International Selection Committee at: www.millenniumprize.fi
Additional information about Technology Academy Finland at:
More about the laureates and their innovations:
Case stories, interviews, photographs and videos on the laureates are available at www.millenniumprize.fi
Videos in YouTube
Linus Torvalds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1MCvuDvCaQ
Dr Shinya Yamanaka http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXvRbffAhn8
Technology Academy Finland (TAF) is an independent foundation with a mission to support scientific research and new technologies that will benefit humanity and improve the quality of people’s lives. TAF awards the bi-annual Millennium Technology Prize and runs associated events such as the annual Millennium Youth Camp. TAF also promotes Finland as a high-tech country by actively participating in global networks in the scientific community, business and governmental organisations.
The Millennium Technology Prize has been awarded four times. The inaugural Prize was awarded in 2004 to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. In 2006, the Prize was awarded to Professor Shuji Nakamura, inventor of revolutionary new light sources – bright blue, green and white LEDs and a blue laser. In 2008, Professor Robert Langer won the Prize for his innovative work in controlled drug release and for developing innovative biomaterials for use in tissue regeneration. The fourth Prize was awarded to Professor Michael Grätzel in 2010 for his innovative developments in dye-sensitised solar cells. New technology will have a significant impact on the development of future energy solutions, and Grätzel cells are expected to play an important and extensive role in renewable energy applications.
What the selection committee said about this year’s Laureates
“In recognition of the unprejudiced creation of a new open source operating system leading to the largely exploited Linux kernel. The free availability on the Web swiftly caused a chain-reaction leading to further development and fine-tuning worth the equivalent of 73,000 man-years. Today the estimated number of users is 30 million. The achievement of Linus Torvalds has had a great impact on software development and on cultural and ethical issues of networking and openness of the Web.”
Dr. Shinya Yamanka
“In recognition of the discovery of a new method and the development of necessary technical procedures in order to produce induced pluripotent stem cells from ordinary cell tissue. The achievement has great impact on research in medicine and biotechnology, pluripotent stem cells are already used for medical drug testing and the growth of implant tissues. Dr. Yamanaka’s discovery also has a fundamental ethical bearing as it eliminates the need for embryonic stem cells. He is unquestionably identified as the father of the innovation.”
Partners of the Millennium Technology Prize
Kemira, Neste Oil, Nokia, Outotec, SEB,
Cargotec, FIM, Fortum, Gasum, Halton, Lönnberg, Metso, Metsägroup, Ruukki, Vaisala, Wärtsilä