The Uppsala University Innovation Prize – Hjärnäpplet

Each year the Uppsala University Innovation Prize ‘Hjärnäpplet’ is awarded to one or more researchers or doctoral students for outstanding transference of knowledge from the University to a company and/or other external organisation that has resulted in an innovation. This innovation may have come about in a new or existing company or organisation.

The Swedish name ‘Hjärnäpplet’ is a play on words, with the literal translation being ‘the Brain Apple’. However, the first half of the name, ‘Hjärn-’, also sounds like the Swedish word for ‘iron’ – a reference to the iron sculpture (pictured below) awarded together with the prize money.

The term ‘innovation’ is used in accordance with the ‘Oslo definition’ adopted by the OECD: “an ‘innovation’ is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.”

Every other year the prize should preferably go to a person in the disciplinary domain of Science and Technology, and every other year preferably to a person in one of the other two disciplinary domains. If no suitable candidate is identified in the preferred disciplinary domain, a worthy winner may be taken from one of the other disciplinary domains. If no single person is regarded as responsible for the innovation, the prize may be awarded jointly to no more than three originators. The prize consists of a diploma, a sculpture and SEK 50,000.

The Vice-Chancellor names the prizewinner at the proposal of a committee consisting of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (chair), the vice-rectors of the three disciplinary domains, the Director General of Vinnova (or a person appointed by them) and a representative from outside the University, to be named by the head of UU Innovation.

The original initiator of the prize and designer of the sculpture, Rickard Karmhag, is an associate member of the committee, with the right to attend and be heard.
All employees may nominate suitable candidates. Nominations are then reviewed by UU Innovation, which presents them to the committee.

The prize is conferred in connection with the annual inauguration of professors.

Previous recipients of Uppsala University’s Innovation Prize:

  • 2018:  Håkan Engqvist
  • 2017:  Hans Lennernäs
  • 2016:  Maria Strømme
  • 2015:  Lars Wallentin and Stefan James
  • 2014:  Mats Leijon
  • 2013:  Ulf Landegren
  • 2012:  Fredrik Bruhn
  • 2011:  Axel Lundvall and Fredrik Nikolajeff
  • 2010:  Stefan Johansson
  • 2009:  Lars Stolt
  • 2008:  Claes-Göran Granqvist

The Hjärnäpplet sculpture

The Hjärnäpplet sculpture has the geometric shape of a truncated octahedron. The shape was first described by Archimedes in Syracuse, Greece, in 250 BC. The sculpture is designed by Richard Karmhag and manufactured by Thomas and Peter Larsson, JTS Mekaniska AB, and BFE AB in Pålsboda.