Helen Lee (UK/France)
Cambridge University researcher Helen Lee was picked by an overwhelming majority of the public to receive the Popular Prize for her invention of diagnostic kits for resource-poor regions of the globe. Already used to test more than 40 000 people, her robust, instant blood diagnostic kits are cost-effective and easy-to-use for detection of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and chlamydia. Lee received more than 36 300 votes, or 64%, of the total record number of 56 700 votes cast online by the public in the five weeks leading up to the award ceremony (up from 46 800 total votes last year). This was by far the highest number of public votes ever received by any European Inventor Award finalist since the launch of the Popular Prize category in 2013.
Helen Lee said: “life is a journey and the journey of Samba has not always been easy” and thanked those who had helped “in choppy waters”. She said, “Our rudder was ‘never give up’ and our direction was to be useful… thanks for putting wind behind our sails. I hope it will bring people to safer shores.”