Inventor of the Year

Recognizing the world's most outstanding recent inventors

Inventor of the Year Award

The 48th Inventor of the Year award goes to four individuals who have impacted the world over the past year. IPO Education Foundation is pleased to award Katalin Kariko (BioNTech), Ugur Sahin (BioNTech), Ozlem Tureci (BioNTech), and Drew Weissman (University of Pennsylvania) as the Inventors of the Year for the development of mRNA technology used in COVID vaccines. “It is an honor to award these four individuals with the Inventor of the Year award. Their dedication to mRNA development has changed the world and impacted the lives of so many during this pandemic,” said Executive Director JESSICA LANDACRE.

IPO Education Foundation will sit down with the four innovators in a virtual fireside chat during the awards celebration on December 7 – submit questions to be answered by the honorees by emailing



Pat Brown, Impossible Foods

In reflecting on how he could use his training and experience to make the largest positive impact on the world, Pat Brown realized there was a way to make delicious, affordable meat and dairy products, directly from plants – that would be better for the environment and for consumers.

Chieko Asakawa, IBM Corp.

Chieko Asakawa improved the lives of the visually impaired for the past three decades. With advances in technology and the improvement of visual user interface and multimedia content, Ms. Asakawa has developed tools that adapt to the needs of someone who is visually impaired.

David Hall, Velodyne LiDAR

Mr. Hall is a pioneer in the self-driving industry, having invented real time 3D LiDAR for autonomous vehicles.  His business experience in relation to developing and producing self-driving technology is unsurpassed.  Mr. Hall's background as an innovator within this field grants him a unique perspective on its related challenges, solutions, and potential implications.


The inventors of CRISPR-CAS9, a gene editing technology, from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Feng Zhang (center left) accepted the award on behalf of the Broad Institute and Dr. Jennifer Doudna (center right) accepted on behalf of Berkeley at the Foundation Awards Dinner on 5 December 2017.

Immunotherapy oncology treatments

Inventors of six breakthrough immunotherapy oncology treatments were honored. The treatments include: 1) Amgen Inc.'s Imlygic, 2) Amgen Inc.'s Blincyto, 3) Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Opdivo, 4) Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Yervoy, 5) Genentech, Inc.'s Tecentriq, and 6) Merck & Co.'s Keytruda.

Jay S. Walker, Walker Innovation Inc.

With more than 650 U.S. patents and numerous others pending, in 2015 Mr. Walker was the world’s 11th most patented living inventor. He is best known as the founder of one of the leading innovators in the travel industry,, which in 2015, as the Priceline Group, had a market cap of over $60 billion and had served over 50 million customers.

Dr. Hugh Herr

Dr. Herr was honored for his invention of the BIOM® T2 System, the world’s first bionic foot and calf system, designed to replicate an individual’s lost muscle and tendon anatomy and function in order to create a more normalized gait.

Dean Kamen, DEKA Research & Development Corp.

Mr. Kamen was honored for his invention of the Slingshot™ Water Distillation System, designed to create clean drinking water in the most water-desperate communities in the world.

Alex Kipman, Microsoft Corp.

Mr. Kipman was honored for his invention of Kinect, Microsoft’s motion sensing device developed for Xbox 360.

Pfizer’s Xalkori® (crizotinib)

Dr. J. Jean Cui, Lee Funk, Lei Jia, Dr. Pei-Pei Kung, Jerry Meng, Mitchell Nambu, Mason Pairish, Hong Shen, and Michell Tran-Dube were honored for their invention of Pfizer’s Xalkori® (crizotinib), the first new drug approved for lung cancer in the U.S. in more than six years.

Thomas M. Stevenson, George P. Lahm, and Thomas P. Selby of DuPont

The winners were honored for their invention of DuPont™ Rynaxypyr®, an advanced insect control product.

Plasma Transferred Wire ARC Thermal Spray Apparatus and Method (PTWA)

James Baughman, Ford Motor Company (Retired); David Cook, Ph.D. (Formerly with Ford Motor Company); Keith Kowalsky; and Daniel Marantz – Flame-Spray Industries, Inc. – were honored for their invention of the Plasma Transferred Wire ARC Thermal Spray Apparatus and Method (PTWA), a process that applies a coating of modern metal to the interior of an aluminum engine, which makes engines wear and heat resistant and improves fuel economy.

Dr. Ihor Lys, Color Kinetics (now Philips Solid-State
Lighting Solutions)

Dr. Lys was honored for his development of Powercore®, a breakthrough in digital power processing technology designed to increase efficiency, lower the overall cost, and simplify installation of LED (light emitting diode) lighting systems.

Dr. Raymond V. Damadian, Fonar Corporation

Dr. Damadian was honored for his development of the Upright Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine.

Philip Frank Souter and Colin Ure, Procter & Gamble

Mr. Souter and Mr. Ure were honored for the humanitarian efforts that led to the design and development of PuR® Purifier of Water Sachets.

Christopher A. Arnholt, Paul M. Pierce and Tim J. Sutherland, Motorola Inc.

Mr. Arnholt, Mr. Pierce, and Mr. Sutherland were honored for development of the Motorola mobile phone, in a special Industrial Design Inventor of the Year category.

Cassidy Goldstein

Ms. Goldstein was honored for creating the crayon holder, a patented drawing device, when she was 11 years old, in a special Youth Inventor of the Year category.