Two prominent innovators, Linus Torvalds and Dr Shinya Yamanaka, are joint Grand Winners of the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize, one of the world’s major technology prizes. This is the first time that the Grand Prize has been shared by two scientists. The 1.2m Euros prize fund will be split, with both winners receiving 600,000 Euros each. The price is awarded by Technology Academy Finland (TAF).
Linus Torvalds, a US citizen born in Finland, has been awarded the prize for creating the Linux kernel, a new open source operating system for computers. Dr Shinya Yamanaka, a Japanese citizen, has been awarded the prize in recognition of his discovery of a new method to develop induced pluripotent stem cells for medical research.
— The International Selection Committee has to judge whether an innovation has had a favourable impact on people’s lives and assess its potential for further development to benefit humanity in the future. The innovations of both this year’s winners embody that principle, comments Dr Ainomaija Haarla, President of Technology Academy Finland.
Linux, the open source operating system for computers, is used by millions of computers, smartphones and digital video recorders that run on Linux. According to TAF, Linus Torvalds’s achievements have had a great impact on shared software development, networking and the openness of the web.
— I'm really honored to be the joint recipient of this year's Millennium Technology Prize. I'd also like to thank all the people I've worked with, who have helped make the project not only such a technical success, but have made it so fun and interesting, said Linus Torvalds.
TAF awarder Dr Yamanaka for using his method to create stem cells, as scientists all over the world are making great strides in research in medical drug testing and biotechnology. This should one day lead to the successful growth of implant tissues for clinical surgery and combating intractable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
— I will continue to work hard to achieve our goals of developing new drugs and medical treatments to intractable diseases by using iPS cell technology, commented Dr Shinya Yamanaka.
The Millennium Technology Prize is awarded every two years for innovations that significantly improve the quality of human life, today and in the future. Previous winners of the prize include Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web; Professor Shuji Nakamura, inventor of coloured LEDs and a blue laser; and Professor Robert Langer, for developing innovative biomaterials for use in tissue regeneration. Most recently, the prize was awarded in 2010 to Professor Michael Grätzel for his work on dye-sensitised solar cells that provide low cost renewable energy.