A Romanian company won the grand prize at the 37th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva for its revolutionary automated gamma ray scanner.
By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest -- 23/04/09
The Roboscan 1M can identify the radiography of a car or truck in seconds. [Gabriel Petrescu]
At the 37th annual International Exhibition of Inventions held in Geneva from April 1st to 5th, a Bucharest company won the fair's Grand Prix by a unanimous vote of the 82-member jury. The domestically financed firm MB Technology (known in Romania as MB Telecom SRL), prevailed with its automated gamma ray scanner, the Roboscan 1M.
The product, already patented in Asia, the United States and Europe, is the only such system in the world that a single operator can direct remotely, entirely eliminating the risk of irradiation. In a few seconds, the mobile system can identify the radiography of a car, truck, container or any other object of similar size.
The Roboscan 1M is designed specifically for customs inspections and is reportedly deployed at least at nine Romanian border checkpoints. Its key advantages are: low weight, a minimal personnel requirement, increased maneuverability and productivity, a significant reduction of energy consumption and an extended inspection capability.
"We hope our success will be an example for other companies and will change the government's attitude towards research," MB Technology Executive Manager Constantin Sima told Southeast European Times. For many years, dwindling state funds have forced Romanian researchers to abandon major projects or to work abroad.
Sima said 25 of the company's 65 employees worked on the Roboscan project for about four years. The investment reached 6m euros.
At last year's fair in Geneva, Romania's 50 exhibits won 25 golden medals and 20 silver medals. But Anton Anton, president of the National Authority for Scientific Research, lamented the "lack of interest in inventions". The country's National Office of Inventions and Trademark Registration documented only seven inventions in the past 18 months.
In contrast, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, "applicants from Japan, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea and Germany received 73%" of the world's 727,000 patents in 2006, the last year for which statistics are available.
That lack of creative dynamism in Romania comes despite a remarkable national history of innovation. Earlier Romanians invented the fountain pen and the jet plane as well as pioneering speleology, geriatrics and bacteriology.