What are the first words that come to your mind when you think about Finland? Sauna or perhaps Santa Claus? For many Finland is known for its technology. As a percentage of GDP, Finnish research and development spending has been top-ranked for years. The population is well-educated and innovation performance is among the very best in Europe. That is why Finland is home to the Millennium Technology Prize, an award that celebrates technological innovations which improve everyone’s lives.
The Millennium Technology Prize is the world’s biggest technology award. The winners of the Prize are responsible for innovations that 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. With a prize of 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 Millennium Technology Prize supports the strengths of Finland: a solution-focused society, sustainable development and a high standard of education. The prize brings the benefits of the Finnish practical mindset to the whole world. In a globalized world, people’s lives are affected by common problems and solutions. The Millennium Technology Prize aims to reward the impact of science and innovation on society and humanity, and also to blaze the trail for new applications.
As the main purpose of the prize is to support global progress, it is therefore essential that the Finnish prize can be awarded anywhere in the world. The prize is open to innovators of all nationalities and to those working in all fields of technology apart from military technology. The prize has a track record of picking scientists that go on to major international prominence. To date, the Millennium Technology Prize has been awarded seven times.
OF THE PRIZE
The inaugural Millennium Technology Prize was awarded in 2004 to Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. The next winner was Shuji Nakamura, inventor of bright blue and white LEDs. Robert Langer won for his work in controlled drug release and Michael Grätzel for his developments in dye-sensitized solar cells. Linus Torvalds won for the creation of an open source operating system, Shinya Yamanaka for his new method to produce ethical stem cells and Stuart Parkin received the 2014 Prize for his discoveries which enabled a massive increase in data storage density. Biochemical engineer Frances Arnold received the 2016 Prize in recognition of her discoveries that launched the field of ‘directed evolution’. In 2018, the eighth Millennium Technology Prize was presented to Finnish physicist Tuomo Suntola. His atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology has made our lives with high efficiency smartphones, computers and social media possible.