Nakamura collects Millennium Technology Prize
Professor Shuji Nakamura had not heard of the Millennium Technology Prize, when he learned that he had won the award, worth EUR one million.
The Japanese professor, who works at the University of California at Santa Barbara, visited Finland for the first time when he came here last week to receive the award.
The Millennium Prize is the world's largest technology prize, with which Finland wants to raise its profile as a leader in technology. The prize was awarded to Nakamura on Friday evening at the Helsinki Fair Centre by President Tarja Halonen.
At a press conference on Friday morning, Nakamura said that he appreciates the prize. "It has become a great incentive for continuing my research."
Nakamura was given the award for his pioneering work in developing blue laser light and LEDs (light-emitting diodes). The technologies have many applications, in energy conservation, water purification, and data storage.
Nakamura's innovations are also interesting for Finland, which also has a good deal of research going ahead in the field. The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES), the Academy of Finland, and Finnish universities have invested about EUR 100 million during the present decade into research on new sources of light.
Some of the inventions have been commercially successful, notes Markus Pessa, professor at the Tampere University of Technology, and head of the Research Centre for Optoelectronics.
Finland has about 50 small and medium-sized companies in the field, with a total turnover of EUR 300 million. The companies employ 1,700 people directly, and 200 university researchers indirectly, Pessa reports.
The Millennium Technology Prize is given out once every two years. The award money comes from the state. In addition, the Millennium Prize Foundation spends a good deal of money making the prize better known.
The aim is to bolster Finland's reputation in scientific circles as a leading country in technology, in hopes of attracting more high-quality scientists and students.
It is not yet known how well the prize, which has been given out twice already, is known around the world. The Foundation hopes to investigate the matter early next year.
The Foundation's annual budget is about a million euros, and does not include the award money itself.
In 2004, the award went to Tim Berners-Lee, known as the father of the World Wide Web.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Shuji Nakamura, inventor of bright LED lights, gets Millennium Prize (16.6.2006)
Millennium Technology Prize awarded to Tim Berners-Lee (16.6.2004)
The Millennium Technology Prize
Millennium Technology Prize (Wikipedia)
Blue-and-white LEDs (Wikipedia)