New members for the Millennium Prize Selection Committee

Appointments made at the proposal of Aalto University.

At its meeting on 14 October 2014, the Board of Technology Academy Finland decided to appoint two new members to the International Selection Committee of the Millennium Technology Prize. The new members are Professor Sir Peter Knight from Imperial College London, and Research Professor Merja Penttilä from Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT. The new members were appointed at the proposal of Aalto University, the strategic partner of TAF in the Millennium Technology Prize.

The International Selection Committee plays a key role in the process of selecting the winner of the Millennium Technology Prize. The committee assesses the candidates and makes its recommendation on the winner to the Board of Technology Academy Finland, which then selects the winner. Professor, Academician Riitta Hari from Aalto University is member of the Committee.

The winners of the Millennium Technology Prize are leading scientists, whose innovations help solve great challenges of humanity in a sustainable way. Two winners of the Millennium Technology Prize have later also been awarded the Nobel Prize: Shuji Nakamura, who was awarded the Millennium Technology Prize back in 2006 for developing blue and white LEDs, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014, and Shinya Yamanaka, stem cell researcher and the 2012 Millennium Prize winner, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine also in 2012.

Sir Peter Knight’s research speciality is quantum optics and quantum information science. He is Senior Research Investigator in the Physics Department at Imperial College, and also Senior Fellow in Residence at the Kavli Royal Society, and science advisor to the Government of Great Britain. He is the recipient of numerous awards in science, including the Thomas Young Medal and the Glazebrook Medal, and he is one of the most highly cited authors in his field in the world. He retired in 2010 as Deputy Rector (Research) at Imperial College.

Marja Penttilä’s research field is the engineering of microbes for the production chemicals, materials and fuels from renewable resources using molecular biology and systems and synthetic biology. She is Research Professor in Biotechnology at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. She has served as a director and member in Centres of Excellence of the Academy of Finland, as a leader of several large national and international research programmes, and as a scientific advisor for funding and research organizations. In 2012 she received a science recognition prize in bioeconomy from the Wihuri Foundation for International Prizes.

“The new members bring to the selection of the Millennium Technology Prize the very highest international expertise in the physical and biological sciences and their technological application. It is important for Aalto University to be engaged in the identification and awarding of top-level innovations,” says Academician Risto Nieminen, Dean of Aalto University and member of the Executive Committee of Technology Academy Finland.

Nomination of candidates for the next Millennium Technology Prize begins in March 2015

The nomination period for the 2016 Millennium Technology Prize is 16 March – 31 July 2015. Nominations can be made by science academies, universities, research institutes and industrial organizations in all fields of technology worldwide.

The International Selection Committee begins its work after the Pre-Selection Committee has completed its preliminary assessment of the nominations.

“The International Selection Committee convenes twice: for the first time in November 2015 to analyse the nominations. A session in January–February 2016 discusses spearheading innovations and makes the final presentation for the winner. The time between the sessions is used for checking the background information of the innovations and their developers," says Chancellor Jarl-Thure Eriksson, Chairman of the International Selection Committee.

The International Selection Committee has eight members, and is always chaired by a Finnish member. A minimum of two members change in every prize round. The maximum term of a member is four rounds, or eight years.

Members of the International Selection Committee 2015–2016:

Chancellor Jarl-Thure Eriksson, Finland, Chairman
Professor Jaakko Astola, Finland
Dr. Craig R. Barrett, USA
Dr. Hans-Joachim Freund, Germany
Academician Riitta Hari, Finland
Professor Sir Peter Knight, UK
Research Professor Merja Penttilä, Finland
Dr. Ayao Tsuge, Japan

The Millennium Technology Prize is awarded for technology innovations that significantly improve the quality of human life and help solve great challenges of mankind in a sustainable way. A winning innovation has practical applications and generates new top research. The prize was launched in 2004 and is awarded every other year.

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