On 24 May, Technology Academy Finland (TAF) declared American innovator Frances Arnold as the winner of the 2016 Millennium Technology Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious awards given for disruptive technological innovations that enhance the quality of people’s lives. The €1m prize, awarded for the seventh time, was presented to Professor Arnold by the President of the Republic of Finland, Mr Sauli Niinistö.
Biochemical engineer Frances Arnold received the 2016 Millennium Technology Prize in recognition of her discoveries that launched the field of ‘directed evolution’, which mimics natural evolution to create new proteins with useful properties in a laboratory setting. This technology uses the power of biology and evolution to replace less efficient and sometimes harmful technologies. Thanks to directed evolution, sustainable development and clean technology become available in many areas of industry that no longer have to rely on nonrenewable raw materials.
“Awarding Frances Arnold’s innovation is indeed very timely, as a number of countries, including Finland, are aiming at clean technology and green growth,” said Professor Marja Makarow, Chair of TAF.
Frances Arnold is the first woman to win the award, underscoring her status as a role model for women working in technology.She follows in the footsteps of past winners such as inventor of bright blue and white LEDs Shuji Nakamura and ethical stem cell pioneer Shinya Yamanaka, who have later received the Nobel Prize.