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Recognising life-enhancing innovations

Launched in 2004, the Millennium Technology Prize recognises and celebrates innovations that significantly enhance our quality of life and encourage sustainable development. The next Prize, worth €1 million to the winner, will be announced in June 2006.

Founded on the belief that new technologies are essential for responding to global problems – such as the growing shortage of clean drinking water, the threat of climate change, disease, and spiralling energy needs – the Millennium Technology Prize is intended to inspire and recognise innovations that help provide answers to these challenges and have a positive impact on mankind’s overall quality of life.

The inaugural Millennium Technology Prize was awarded in June 2004, to Sir Tim Berners-Lee for his achievement in revolutionising electronic communication through the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee’s invention has become an irreplaceable tool for people around the world and has had a positive influence on the lives of millions.

In addition to €1 million, winners of the Millennium Technology Prize are presented with the ‘Peak’, designed by Finnish sculptor, Helena Hietanen. This incorporates a crystal tip grown from silicon, the second most-common element on the planet.

As Pekka Tarjanne, former Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union and Chairman of the international ­Millennium Technology Prize ­Selection Committee, puts it:

“The Web has significantly enhanced many people’s ability to obtain information central to their lives.”

A partnership between industry and state

The Prize is awarded by the Millennium Prize Foundation, an independent fund established through a partnership between Finnish industry and the state.

The Foundation has its roots in a proposal first put forward in the 1990s, and the outline of the present organisation was presented by a working group chaired by the then Chairman of the Finnish Academies of Technology, Jaakko Ihamuotila. The private and public sector joined forces not long after, in December 2002, to establish theMillennium Prize Foundation.

The next Millennium Prize

The nomination period for the Millennium Technology Prize of 2006 began in March 2005 and closed at the end of October 2005 – and the winner will be announced on June 15, 2006. An award ceremony will be held on September 8, 2006.

Selecting the winner is the responsibility of the Board of the Millennium Prize Foundation, on the basis of a recommendation from a distinguished international Selection Committee.

As before, the Prize is open to people in any area of technology and from anywhere around the world.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, winner of the Prize for 2004, was invited to Finland in March 2005, and attended two professional seminars and two events for the general public at which Special Recognition Awards were presented.
> Tanja Ikonen
(Published in High Technology Finland )