Aino Heikkinen of Finland has taken the top prize in the European Union’s Women Inventors & Innovators awards for recycled building materials used in low-cost housing in Africa. Aino Heikkinen was voted the overall winner for herpatented TEXCEM process for recycling waste synthetic rags and combining them with microcement. Heikkinen is a concrete engineer and director of CT Microtechnology. The competition’s judges were impressed not only by Heikkinen’s inventiveness in coming up with the technology, but also the innovative way she has developed novel uses for the material, such as providing immediate and affordable accommodation for people in developing countries or who are affected by natural disasters. According to the inventor herself, waste is an excellent source of raw material. “There is plenty of useful matter in waste which can be exploited.
We shouldn’t throw it away,” Heikkinen told the Finnish recycling magazine Uusiouutiset. In the production of recycled cement, various kinds of waste and industrial by-products can be used. The exact recipes are Heikkinen’s business secrets, but textile waste is one ingredient. Aino Heikkinen was voted overall winner for her development of recycled building material that can be used in low-cost housing in Africa. Her patented TEXCEM process, which recycles waste synthetic rag and combines it with micro-cement, received high praise at the mid-June awards ceremony in Berlin. Heikkinen impressed the judges not only by her inventiveness in coming up with the technology, but also the innovative way she has developed novel uses for the material—such as providing immediate and economically sound habitats for people in developing countries or who are affected by natural disasters.

The awards were dominated by businesses with a strong social-enterprise element: Wales’s Liz Williams, who won the science & technology category, developed her DNA security alarms in response to the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.


Likewise, Portugal’s Maria Conceicao, a former flight attendant for Emirates airline, won the “Exceptionally Creative and Innovative Woman” category for her Dhaka project, which raises funds and supplies for families living in the slums of Bangladesh.

There were 35 finalists at the awards, which were the brainchild of Bola Olabisi, the CEO of the British Female Inventor of the Year award and the founder of GWIIN, a worldwide networking group for innovative women.

Other category winners included:


Healthcare Innovation

Thuridur Gudmundsdottir, from Iceland, is from a family of self-taught herbalists. She has developed a new healing treatment, Green Balm, using Iceland wild yarrow for the treatment of burn wounds. She is also the developer and producer of a herbal cosmetic range ‘Taer Icelandic’, which carries the coveted ‘Organic Product of Iceland’ mark.



Mother and child
Schoolteacher Elaine Stephen from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland (UK) impressed the judges and other participants by having a group of three-year old children at the awards showcase to demonstrate her Walkodile ® invention. The product keeps 3 to 7-year-old children linked together—and to accompanying adults—when they are on educational walks outside school or nursery premises and allows supervisors to manage a group more effectively.


Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
Brigitte François, from France but now living in England, is a mother of four from a deaf family and is a sign language interpreter. Registered in the UK, she also works internationally. She set up Significan’t in 2003, SignVideo in 2005 and became the first video call centre in Europe providing remote video interpreting services for deaf sign language users.


Celia Gates is a British product designer, based in the UK. Her Doctor Cook range of cookware has a unique handle and other design elements that make the items easier to pick up and manoeuvre. This is of particular benefit to the elderly or those with weak or injured hands or wrists. The products’ design will help reduce the likelihood of accidents and personal injury to the millions who use cookware in the home every day. Gates’s other product designs include avalanche breathing vests and a power kite steering device.

Federica Migliardo – ITALY

Federica’s best achievements are the formulation of an explanatory hypothesis for the trehalose bioprotective effectiveness and the drawing-up of an innovative stabilization protocol for biotechnological applications. These results have been reached by unconventional approaches and recognized by the L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship 2005 and the Sapio Award for the Italian Research 2006.
Joan Bree – IRELAND

Irishwoman, Joan Bree, has invented and launched an entirely new product into the growing, multi-billion dollar sun-care market. Cush‘n Shade™ is a portable device which combines a cushion and a  +50 UPF sunshade. Bree, was driven to invent Cush’n Shade™ to satisfy her own need to be able to read comfortably in the sun. The design evolved over a number of years and many prototypes.  Patents have now been granted or are pending practically worldwide.
Marika Mikelsaar – ESTONIA
Marika is professor at University of Tartu (UT) having taught medical microbiology to thousands of Estonian students and supervised the 11 completed PhD theses. She has twice got the Estonian National Science Award in Medicine (1994, 2002). Her research results in modulation of intestinal microbiota and health through the use of carefully selected and patented probiotic bacteria have been transmitted to extended populations. In 2004 she was awarded as Estonian Woman of the Year. The on-going work has good collaborative links with major European research units.

Maire obtained a PhD in Electronic Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast in 2002. She is currently a RAEng research fellow conducting research into communications security. She has authored a book and over 40 peer-reviewed international publications. She has won numerous awards including British Female Inventor of the Year 2007.
Christiane Mentrup – GERMANY/SWITZERLAND

Following Christiane working in Canada, the German occupational therapist translated, implemented, taught and published newly won knowledge nationally and internationally. She developed and implemented parts of a quality management system in German addiction hospitals. Christiane volunteers to introduce therapy professions in Egypt and Mongolia and is setting up an OT university department in Switzerland.
Virpi Roto – FINLAND

Virpi states ‘Mobility will be the next big thing for Internet, and a Web browser that provides good user experience on a mobile phone is a big step towards a device-independent Web’. Virpi Roto at NOKIA is the user experience person behind the innovative Minimap web browser, available now in 10 million+ mobile phones.
Cintra Jaggan-Vince – UNITED KINGDOM

Cintra is social entrepreneur, who focuses on simple solutions to touch the hearts and lives of people; and reduce the burdens of care. As a multi-award winner, she recently received overwhelming recognition by top medical experts in the NHS for her ideas, which they believe will change lives.
Giselle Rufer – Switzerland,
Giselle, is the creator of the DELANCE watch brand which serves as a model of creativity, courage and excellence for all entrepreneurs, women and men alike. Speaker at many conferences, Rufer continue to share her knowledge with all those who dream of creating their own businesses
Maria Conceicao – PORTUGAL/ DUBAI

Maria is a cabin crew member with Emirates Airline in Dubai, she started the Dhaka Project two years ago to break the cycle of poverty for children and families living in the slums of Bangladesh. She runs this innovative project using her days off work with her dedicated local team.
María Kristin Magnusdottir – ICELAND
María is the first Icelandic luxury shoe designer, using Icelandic fish leather in her designer brand MKM-Footwear. She was showcased at the SOFA exhibition in NY and the Reykjavík Arts Festival. The brand will be launched in Berlin alongside the Global Summit of Women 2007, in Berlin.
Myriam Tamagni – BELGIUM
Myriam Tamagni has founded Tamarico as she was almost 50 years old.  A new challenge after several other professional and family commitments: teacher in kindergarden school, author of books about development cooperation for children, etc. Tamarico (a very small enterprise) is an innovation per se: new approach about communication about disability issues and selling of day-to-day products for persons with a disability :Tamarico : From ordinary to extraordinary!

Ndieme is the founder Dieme Cosmetics SARL.
She is the Chairperson of the Association “A.F.P.”. She set up many cooperatives for several women in Africa who earn an equitable income. Her activities on the field as well as to instill the rural women the spirit of “agency empowerment”.
Nicola Hochgruber – GERMANY

Nicola has since 1989 been with the Accor Hotellerie Deutschland GmbH.  At the age of 30 years she became the hotel director and at the time of print she had been responsible for two openings and the successful introduction of a new innovative hotel concept on the Berlin market.  At present, she leads the first hotel park with almost 600 rooms and three different products.
Petra Moske – GERMANY

Petra is a social entrepreneur. Her non-profit organisation nestwärme e.V. Deutschland, founded in 1999, provides families with chronically ill or handicapped children with special services for a better quality of life. Main tasks of the organisation are intensive care service for children, consulting services and funding of projects, as well as lobbying and public relations in order to help relieving the distress of these families.
Patricia O’Sullivan
Patricia runs the M50 Enterprise Programme, Ireland’s foremost support programme, which guides and supports innovators and entrepreneurs. Formally CEO of a software company for which she raised venture capital and won the accolade “Businesswoman of the Year”, Patricia then held senior management positions in both indigenous and multi-national companies.
Runa Magnusdottir – ICELAND 

Runa is an entrepreneur running her own import company, focusing on interior and design products for almost two decades. Her passion and ambition has been to work with other professional business women in order to build various businesses.  In her mind the most effective and the easiest way to reach to professional business women world wide, is the use of the internet so she created therefore targeting and building an active, positive search web site for professional business women from all over the world.
Sharon Adler – GERMANY

Sharon Adler is German, Jewish, a mother, and founder and editor-in-chief
of AVIVA-Berlin,an e-zine for women in its seventh year that has growing
national and international recognition. She is also a freelance photographer, and in 2006 published ‘Damenwahl’, a photographic portrait of 40 women who talk about their passion – cars.
Vanessa Hannen  – GERMAN / ITALY  
After her successful graduation at the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2006 with the display FLATTER, Vanessa Hannengot a scholarship from the Richemontgroup for the Master of Arts in Design in Milan. She has since proudly presented her work also at the IMM-Cologne among the ‘d³ design talents’.