Speech by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö at the 2014 Millennium Technology Prize Award Ceremony in Helsinki on 7 May 2014

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Today we celebrate an innovator whose discoveries have made a difference in the daily lives of us all. As the Patron of the Millennium Technology Prize, I wish to extend my warmest congratulations to Professor Stuart Parkin, winner of the Millennium Technology Prize 2014.

Professor Parkin’s mission has been to radically improve the way how we can record data. Thanks to his work we can now stream movies and listen to music on line, use social networks and find huge amount of new information on the internet. Large data centers, so called  big data solutions and cloud services are concrete examples where we can see Professor Parkin’s life work.  Or maybe I should not use the word life work, as I am sure that there is a lot more to come.

Ten years have passed since the first Millennium Technology Prize was awarded. In a way, we have come a full circle. The first recipient of the prize in 2004 was the inventor of the World Wide Web. Today, we are honoring innovations that have taken the internet to the higher level.

With the Millennium Technology Prize Finland wants to promote research and innovation that enhances the quality of people’s life. A non-scientist – like me – understands the meaning of an invention only when it is applied in practice. And indeed, we can see science and its’ positive impact in our daily life in every corner of the world.

But innovations do not appear out of nowhere. They require hard work and curiosity from researchers. Equally necessary is the way in which the society around researchers functions and provides support.

In Finland, we have considered it extremely important to invest in cutting edge science, research and technology. Our successful education system and educated workforce are essential factors in advancing high level research. Our welfare and prosperity rely on an open, export-dependent economy and, more and more on a strong innovation scene. New technological solutions together with a can-do-attitude form the basis of our future work opportunities.

I also want to emphasize that science, research and technology promote democracy and equality in our societies. The Millennium Technology Prize has successfully enhanced these values already during a decade.

Today we Finns and people all around the world are confronted with the same challenges – such as population growth and climate change. Scientists carry out groundbreaking work to find solutions to these and other challenges facing mankind.  So, let us today celebrate science and scientists, their achievements and breakthroughs.

I extend my best wishes to professor Parkin for continued success in your future research. And I hope that the Millennium Technology Prize will for many years to come support our endeavors to enhance the wellbeing of this Planet.