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A computer memory that can survive radiation, a face recognition system and a digital content "finger-printing" system to deter multimedia pirates have jointly been awarded a top European prize for innovation. The Grand Prize Winners of the 2006 European IST Prize - Dutch firm Cavendish Kinetics, Guardia of Denmark and French firm Advestigo - will each receive €200,000 in recognition of their achievements in technology innovation.

Cavendish Kinetics caught the judge's eye with its Nanomech memory technology, while Guardia's Control System biometric kit and Advestigo's AdvestiSEARCH also impressed.

Seventeen more prizes of €5,000 each were awarded to other finalists in the competition. The top 20 projects were selected by the European Commission on 16 March from a total of 213 applicants from 28 European countries. It's hoped that the recognition awarded these young companies in competing in the competition will boost the visibility and help them to gain access to sources of finance.

The European IST Prize is organised by the European Commission and the European Council of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering (Euro-CASE). The competition is open to organisations that develop innovative information technology products that have the potential to become a commercial success. Independent experts, proposed by Euro-CASE, judged entries to the competition and recommended winners to the European Commission. The prizes were awarded by EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding, Hubert Gorbach, Austrian Vice Chancellor and Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology, and Eduard Mainoni, State Secretary for Technology during in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna on Wednesday.

During the presentation, Commissioner Reding said that information and communication technology is responsible for 45 per cent of the growth in labour productivity between 2000 to 2004, She called for more investment in hi-tech industries but added that "we must also ensure that this investment feeds a chain of innovation and growth throughout the economy". ®

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