Sugru inventor Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh wins European Inventor Award

Ní Dhulchaointigh is the first Irish person to win the award in the history of the event

Irish woman Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh has won a European Inventor Award for Sugru, the mouldable glue she developed.

Ms Ní Dhulchaointigh, who originally comes from Kilkenny, is the first Irish person to win the award in its 12-year history. She and her team were nominated for an award in the small and medium-sized business category.

The ceremony took place in Paris, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, hosted by the European Patent Office (EPO).

“By enabling us to more easily fix and improve the things we own, Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh encourages us to take a more sustainable approach to our possessions and reduce waste as a consequence,” said EPO president Benoît Battistelli.


“Her success in establishing a unique, sustainable consumer product underscores both the innovative strength of Europe’s SMEs and the benefits of patents in reaching such goals.”

Exceptional contribution

The annual awards recognise outstanding inventors from Europe and around the world who have made an exceptional contribution to social development, technological progress and economic growth.

Chosen by an independent international jury, more than 500 teams and inventors were in the running for awards.

Speaking to The Irish Times before the awards were announced, Ms Ní Dhulchaointigh said it was "humbling" to have been nominated.

The timing of the award is somewhat bittersweet for the Irish woman as the company behind Sugru, FormFormForm, was sold recently to German adhesives expert Tesa in a deal that saw investors recover only a fraction of their money.

Award recipients

Four women inventors have been named as award recipients this year, the highest number since the European Inventor Award was launched in 2006.

French inventors Agnès Poulbot and Jacques Barraud won the industry category, with US chemical engineer Esther Sans Takeuchi taking home the award in the non-EPO countries section.

The research category was won by German biophysicist Jens Frahm. Swiss physicist Ursula Keller was awarded the Lifetime accolade, while Erik Loopstra from the Netherlands and Vadim Banine (Netherlands/Russia) won the popular prize, which is chosen by the public in an online poll.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist