The World Technology Awards are presented each year in 30 different categories to outstanding innovators from each sector in the technology arena. The winners were announced this year at a gala ceremony on Nov. 14 at the Time & Life Building in New York City by WTN founder and Chairman, James P. Clark. Other winners of this year's edition were Elon Musk (Tesla/SpaceX), Palmer Luckey (founder of Oculus), and Walter Isaacson (former CEO of CNN, author of Steve Jobs).
The award recognizes Parx Plastics' development of a new, patented technology that is, in the words of CTO Michele Fiori, "fully biocompatible, not toxic, and does not leach out of the materials and yet kills 99% of the bacteria and micro organisms that are on the surface of a product within 24 hours." By applying biomimetics and nanotechnology, a method was developed to make an intrinsic change to plastic, resulting in a mechanical/physical property that acts against bacteria and microorganisms, unlike most products today, which rely on a leaching effect. This also means there is no danger of resistance developing. The technology makes use of zinc, which is one of the body's most abundant trace elements. It is, to date, the only antibacterial technology that is suitable for food packaging applications, with no limitations, to enhance shelf life. In medical applications, such as implants, the technology reduces the chance of infection.
In the run-up to the awards, Michael van der Jagt, one of the founders and CEO of Parx Plastics was asked what he thought set Parx Plastics apart from the work of others in the same field. He took a moment to explain. The inspiration, he said, came from a vision of being able "to replace chemicals and heavy metals by a biological solution and eliminate the hazardous effects that present solutions show."
"Our technology to kill bacteria is derived from biomimetics while others use chemicals, heavy metals, nano-materials, or other hazardous substances," he said. "We managed to copy something from nature that acts against bacteria that cannot lead to antibiotic resistance. Roughly all available antimicrobial technologies today make use of toxins and they have substances leaching out of the material to kill the bacteria. In our technology we don't use harmful substances and we have nothing leaching out of the material. The fact that we found a way to make an efficient antibacterial effect without leaching substances is the true unique element of our technology."
The company is currently engaged in still more tests and trials, and is also talking to seven medical device makers, all of whom have shown serious interest in the technology.
Parx Plastics is headquartered in Rotterdam and has its research facilities in Bologna, Italy. The World Technology Award was the company's second honor this year: Parx Plastics was also selected by the European Commission as one of the top tech startups of Europe in the prestigious 2014 Tech All Stars competition.