Finnish Technology Academy announces Millennium Technology prize finalists

The finalists for the 2008 Millennium Technology Prize have been announced by the Technology Academy Finland. Those competing for the world’s largest technology prize are:

Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys
Professor, Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, UK
“For his invention of DNA fingerprinting used in identification of criminal suspects and in paternity and immigration disputes. No other development in modern genetics has had such a profound impact worldwide on the lives of many millions of people.”

Professor Robert Langer
Institute Professor, MIT, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, USA
“For his inventions and development of innovative biomaterials for controlled drug release and tissue regeneration that have saved and improved the lives of millions of people.”

Dr. Andrew J. Viterbi
President, Viterbi Group LLC, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California, USA
“For the invention of the Viterbi algorithm, the key building element in modern wireless and digital communications systems, touching lives of people everywhere.”


Professor Emmanuel Desurvire
Director, Physics Research Group, Thales Corporate Research & Technology, France

Dr. Randy Giles
Director, Optical Networks, Bell Laboratories, Alcatel-Lucent, New Jersey, USA

Professor David N. Payne
Director, Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton, UK
“For their outstanding contributions to telecommunications through the invention of the erbium-doped fibre amplifier (EDFA) which made possible the global high-capacity optical fibre network, serving as a backbone of the global information superhighway.”

Biotech and IT innovations compete for 2008 Millennium Technology Prize

Four innovations have been shortlisted for the world’s biggest technology award, the 2008 Millennium Technology Prize. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Finland on 11 June 2008.

The DNA fingerprinting technique developed by British geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys has revolutionized the field of forensic science, as well as playing an important role in the resolution of paternity and immigration disputes. Today DNA fingerprints are examined everywhere, even in portable laboratories, and the equipment for genetic fingerprinting is being made by dozens of companies around the world.

The innovation of Desurvire, Giles and Payne, erbium-doped fibre amplifier (EDFA), has revolutionized the world of high-speed and long-distance communication. Optical fibre networks constitute a global spider web, used to transmit telephone signals and Internet communication. Amplifiers are needed to boost the degraded light signals. EDFA is a device that amplifies an optical signal directly, without the need to first convert it to an electrical signal. The work from Desurvire, Giles and Payne reduced the cost and “unleashed” the bandwidth of long distance fiber-optics networks.

Robert Langer’s contributions to medicine and biotechnology are highly recognized. He is a pioneer of many new technologies, including transdermal delivery systems, which allow the administration of drugs through the skin without needles or other invasive methods. His work in drug-releasing polymers eventually led to the creation of a novel way to treat brain cancer. His work has also brought about significant advances in tissue engineering, including synthetic replacement for biological tissues.

Andrew Viterbi’s fundamental contributions to communications technology and theory have touched our everyday lives. He is best known for developing Viterbi Algorithm, a technique that has advanced the design and implementation of modern wireless communication systems. For instance mobile phone networks rely on the algorithm to eliminate noise that would otherwise make communication almost impossible. There is a detector utilizing Viterbi algorithm in the disk drive of every computer and high capacity MP3 player. It is also used in outer space communications, speech recognition and DNA analysis.

More info
Read more about the laureates and their innovations and see video presentations online at
Press kits

Millennium Technology Prize
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. The world’s biggest technology prize is awarded by the Technology Academy Finland, an independent foundation established by Finnish industry, in partnership with the Finnish state. The finalists were selected by the Board of the Foundation on the basis of recommendations made by the Selection Committee.

Prize amount
The prize pool for the 2008 Millennium Technology Prize is € 1.15 million. The Winner of the Millennium Technology Prize will be awarded € 800,000, and the other innovations will each be awarded € 115,000.

Contact persons
Dr. Tapio Alvesalo, Secretary General of the Foundation, Secretary to the International Selection Committee, mobile +358-400-341 497,

Dr. Stig Gustavson, Chairman of the Technology Academy Finland, mobile +358-400-411119,

Petja Partanen, Communications Manager, mobile +358-40-5111 640,

Contacts for Laureate’s interview requests