The European Commission has awarded Europe's most promising digital innovations emerging from EU funded research and innovation projects. Gr3n (pronounced ‘green’) from Switzerland won the 2018 Innovation Radar Prize for for their breakthrough technology for ‘upcycling’ PET / polyester. The awards ceremony took place at the European Commission's ICT 2018 in Vienna, Austria on 6 December. Five other EU-funded innovators also secured prizes at the awards ceremony.

The 2018 Innovation Radar Prize has been awarded to Gr3n (pronounced ‘green’)  for their breakthrough technology for ‘upcycling’ PET / polyester. They have developed an industrial-grade prototype that uses microwave radiation to increase the proportion of plastics that can be recycled while also increasing the quality of recycled plastics (such as PET or polyester). Gr3n is a Swiss company: although Switzerland is not an EU Member State, Swiss researchers and organisations are able to participate in Horizon 2020.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said:

"Innovation Radar puts the spotlight on the excellence of the Horizon 2020 innovators competing for this prize. It shows how EU funding is helping these brilliant innovators in transforming technology and science into tangible benefits for all Europeans. In the next programme, Horizon Europe, we propose to provide them with even more support so they can fulfil their potential and bring their ideas and products to market."

Winners were also announced in each of the five following categories:

The winner of the Excellent Science category is the Technical University of Denmark for their technology that can laser-print ultra-thin optical lenses for the mass market.

The winner of the Industrial & Enabling Tech category is New Infrared Technologies (Spain) for their innovative use of infrared imaging to deliver real-time control of laser power.

The winner of the Best Young SME category is Multiwave Technologies (Switzerland) for their metamaterial technology that improves the signals captured by state-of-the-art MRI systems.

The winner of the Best early stage innovation category is BioInicia (Spain) for their surface adhesion breakthrough that can revolutionise efficiency of solar panels and food packaging.

The winner for the Tech for Society category is the University of Iceland for 'Sound of Vision', their wearable assistive system that helps visually impaired people better navigate the world around them.

Experts and professionals from the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) offered their targeted support and advice for each finalist in the preparation of their pitches.

About the Innovation Radar Prize

The Innovation Radar is an EC initiative to identify high-potential innovations and innovators in EU-funded research and innovation projects. 48 of the best EU-funded innovators have been identified through this initiative to compete with their EU-funded innovation in five categories for the Innovation Radar Prize 2018. These SMEs, university teams, spinoffs and start-ups reflect the diversity of EU-funded research and innovation and come from every corner of Europe.

The first stage of the competition took place over 2 weeks when the public could vote on the Futurium website for the innovators and innovations on the longlist that impressed them the most. Over 50.000 votes were cast by the public and selected the 20 finalists. The “final” took place in Vienna, where a panel of 4 judges decided the winners on the basis of a 3 minute pitch delivered during a special pitching session at ICT2018 .

More on Innovation Radar

The European Commission's Innovation Radar is about finding excellence across all the EU funded research and innovation projects. It identifies high potential innovations and the key innovators behind them in projects that have received investment from Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme. So far, more than 2000 innovative organisations have been included in the Innovation Radar.

In 2014 the European Commission's DG CONNECT started collecting a broad set of data about the innovative outputs of EU-funded Research and Innovation projects. Using a model developed with the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission has been analysing this data to extract insights and intelligence about the best innovations and innovators. Potential innovations and innovators are then identified with the help of experts. The Innovation Radar also provides guidance and support during the project duration to help the innovation reach the market.

Note on the participation of Switzerland in EU research programmes

Swiss researchers and organisations are able to fully participate in Horizon 2020, the European Union's research and innovation funding programme, on equal terms with entities from EU Member States and other associated countries. This is because on 1 January 2017, Switzerland became fully associated to Horizon 2020. Switzerland is obliged to pay a financial contribution to the Union budget calculated on the basis of a ratio between its GDP and the sum of the Member States of Union GDP in line with the terms of the Association Agreement.