Technology Academy Finland has declared Linus Torvalds and Dr Shinya Yamanaka, laureates of the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize, an award for technological innovation. The laureates will be celebrated at a ceremony in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday 13 June, when the winner of the Grand Prize will be announced. The prize pool exceeds EUR 1 Million.
Linus Torvalds, Finland/USA
In recognition of his creation of a new open source operating system for computers leading to the widely used Linux kernel. The free availability of Linux on the Web swiftly caused a chain-reaction leading to further development and fine-tuning worth the equivalent of 73,000 man-years. Today millions use computers, smartphones and digital video recorders like Tivo run on Linux. Linus Torvald’s achievements have had a great impact on shared software development, networking and the openness of the web, making it accessible for millions, if not billions.
“Software is too important in the modern world not to be developed through open sources. The real impact of Linux is as a way to allow people and companies to build on top of it to do their own thing. We're finally getting to the point where "data is just data", and we don't have all these insane special communications channels for different forms of data”, Thorvalds says.
Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, Japan
In recognition of his discovery of a new method to develop induced pluripotent stem cells for medical research that do not rely on the use of embryonic stem cells. Using his method to create stem cells, scientists all over the world are making great strides in research in medical drug testing and biotechnology that 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. Dr. Yamanaka is specifically cited for his prominent work in ethically sustainable methodology.
“In the 21st century, medical biology will advance at a more rapid pace than before and personalised medicine will become readily available in the not distant future. iPS cell–derived differentiated cells could potentially treat sickle cell anemia and spinal cord injury. There are already plans to conduct a clinical trial on a few patients with age-related macular disease over the next few years", says Dr. Yamanaka.
“My goals over the decade include to develop new drugs to intractable diseases by using iPS cell technology and to conduct clinical trials using it on a few patients with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes or blood diseases.”
The Millennium Technology Prize is Finland’s tribute to life-enhancing technological innovation. The prize is awarded every second year for a technological innovation that significantly improves the quality of human life, today and in the future. It is awarded by the Technology Academy Finland, an independent foundation established by Finnish industry, in partnership with the Finnish state. The laureates were selected by the Board of the Foundation on the basis of recommendations made by the International Selection Committee.
Eligible nominations have been examined by the International Selection Committee, a distinguished network of leading Finnish and international scientists and technologists. The final decision regarding all the laureates is made by the Board of the Technology Academy Finland on the basis of a proposal by the ISC. The Grand Prize Winner will be announced at a festive ceremony in Helsinki on 13 June 2012.
Dr Ainomaija Haarla, President of Technology Academy Finland comments the decision followingly: “We had many worthy nominations that we deliberated over, but ultimately we narrowed it down to these two candidates who have made such a significant impact in the field of computing and stem cell research. I hope this announcement will lead to added recognition for these extraordinary scientists and the technologies that they have developed. These two men may well be talked about for centuries to come.”