The Economist annual prizes recognise successful innovators in eight categories. Here are this year’s winners:
Bioscience: Martin Evans, director of the school of biosciences and professor of mammalian genetics at Cardiff University, for his work in stem-cell research and the development of “knockout” mice. Sir Martin performed pioneering research into stem cells, and used them to create mice with a specific genetic disorder. This led to the creation of “knockout” mice, which are used to model human diseases by deactivating a specific gene.
Business Process: Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia for the promotion of online public collaboration as a means of content development. Mr Wales co-founded Wikipedia, a free, online encyclopedia, in 2001. Every entry is a wiki—a special kind of web page that anyone can edit. Today versions of Wikipedia exist in more than 250 languages, containing over 10m articles (2.6m in English), making Wikipedia the largest encyclopedia ever created.
Computing and Telecommunications: Matti Makkonen for the development of Short Message Service (SMS), or text messaging. Mr Makkonen is a Finnish engineer who is credited with inventing SMS, which allows short messages to be sent between mobile phones. He proposed the idea in the 1980s while working at Finland’s telecoms authority. Billions of text messages are now sent every day.
Consumer Products and Services: Steve Chen and Chad Hurley of YouTube, for creating an easy way to share video. YouTube, founded in 2005, lets users upload video files via broadband connections. They can then be viewed on YouTube’s own site, or embedded in pages on other sites. Viewers can add comments and ratings. YouTube quickly became a cultural phenomenon and is now the most popular video site on the internet.
Energy and the Environment: Arthur Rosenfeld for his promotion of energy efficiency. Dr Rosenfeld is considered a founding father of the energy-efficiency movement. He established the Center for Building Science at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and helped to develop more efficient lighting, low-emissivity windows and software to analyse the energy use of buildings.
No Boundaries: Sumio Iijima for the discovery of carbon nanotubes. Dr Iijima discovered carbon nanotubes in 1991 while working as a researcher at NEC. They are the strongest and stiffest materials known, with many unique properties. They are being applied in catalysts, batteries, fuel cells, solar cells and drug delivery.
Social and Economic Innovation: Bill Gates and Melinda Gates for developing of a philanthropic support platform. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was created in 2000 with a mission to improve lives around the world. As well as applying a rigorous, businesslike approach to philanthropy, it provides an enabling platform for other non-profit organisations. It focuses on improving health, reducing poverty and increasing access to technology in public libraries.
Corporate Innovation: Nokia for its ability to respond to social and technological trends while maintaining its position as the world’s largest handset-maker. The firm makes use of anthropologists and futurologists to steer product design, and recently launched its “Comes With Music” service, hailed as a promising new model for the music industry.
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