Indian-American chemist Sumita Mitra has won the European Inventor Award 2021, one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes, in the "Non-European Patent Office countries" category for her application of nanotechnology in dentistry.
Mitra was the first to successfully integrate nanoparticles into dental materials to produce stronger, durable and more aesthetically pleasing fillings. Her innovation has been successfully commercialised and used in more than 1 billion tooth restorations by dentists around the world.
"Sumita Mitra took an entirely new path in her field, and demonstrated how technological innovation, protected by patents, can transform a sector, and in this case bring benefits to millions of dental patients," said Antonio Campinos, President at the European Patent Office (EPO), on Thursday.
"Her invention remains commercially successful nearly 20 years after its launch -- another reason why she is an inspiration to the next generation of scientists," he added.
The 2021 European Inventor Award ceremony was held digitally and, for the first time, was open to the public who tuned in to the event from around the world. The Award, one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes, is presented annually by the EPO to distinguish outstanding inventors from Europe and beyond who have made an exceptional contribution to society, technological progress and economic growth. The finalists and winners in five categories (Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries and Lifetime achievement) were selected by an independent international jury.
"Curiosity and exploration are the essential points of starting an innovation. It is something that we really need to cultivate in our children," Mitra said.
Sumita Mitra is a partner at Mitra Chemical Consulting, LLC, which advises companies on new technology development, product design, commercialisation, mergers and acquisitions.
She was named the American Chemical Society Hero of Chemistry in 2009, inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2018 and elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2021 for her work related to inventions in nanotechnology for use in dental materials.
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