Sugru inventor becomes first Irish EPO award nominee
FormFormForm founder and CEO Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh has been shortlisted in the small and medium-sized enterprises category at this year’s European Inventor Award, an annual prize awarded by the European Patent Office (EPO). The nomination is the first for an Irish inventor.
Ni Dhulchaointigh and her team were selected for their product Sugru, the world’s first mouldable glue.
Used to repair everyday household items, Sugru adheres to most materials, including metal, glass, and fabric and once set, remains strong, flexible, waterproof and able to withstand high and low temperatures. It can also bear weights up to 2kg and is available in a variety of colours.
The idea of a mouldable, rubberlike glue was designed with the do-it-yourself user in mind was entirely new to the adhesive industry, and its originality required legal protection. The inventor acknowledges that a patent “was critical to making the whole project work” because “most products like adhesives are developed by huge corporations” and it was therefore important for her to obtain the same level of protection as that available to industry. She also emphasizes that the patent was “the only way to raise the finance that would be needed to develop the invention.”
“Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh’s invention invites us to rethink our behaviour when it comes to discarding damaged or broken items in favour of a more considerate treatment of our environment,” said EPO President Benoit Battistelli, announcing the European Inventor Award 2018 finalists. “Her invention is proof that innovative European SMEs can benefit from patents to effectively establish their leadership in the development of sustainable consumer products.”
It is estimated that Sugru has 2.5 million users worldwide, including a global online community spanning 175 countries. To date it has been used to help send a camera sent into space by schoolchildren and a prosthetic foot for a chicken.
FormFormForm recently launched a “family-safe, skin-friendly” version of Sugru that children as young as eight can safely use by themselves. The company expects the new product, a recent winner of an Edison Award for Product Innovation 2018, to experience growth of approximately 50% in 2018 and double the brand’s retail presence by the end of the year.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on 7 June.
Awards will be presented in four other categories: research; industry; non-EPO member states; and lifetime achievement.
Previous finalists and winners include Charles Hull, the inventor of 3D printing, Ingeborg & Prof. Erwin Hochmair, the inventors of the Cochlear implant, and Martin Schadt, the inventor of LCD technology.