The Millennium Technology Prize is Finland’s tribute to innovations that promote the well-being of mankind and society. Technology Academy Finland (TAF) is the home of the Prize and the President of the Republic of Finland is the patron of it. The global one-million-euro prize was first awarded in 2004. The Prize indicates the crucial role technology and science play in solving the great challenges of the world. Adequate food, energy and materials, a clean environment, and combatting serious diseases are all issues we must not take for granted.

Cambridge University chemists Shankar Balasubramanian and David Klenerman have been announced as the winners of the 2020 Millennium Technology Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious science and technology prizes, awarded by Technology Academy Finland (TAF). The announcement of the 2020 award was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö presented the award in a virtual ceremony on 18 May 2021.

Professors Balasubramanian and Klenermanco invented the Solexa-Illumina Next Generation DNA Sequencing (NGS) technology that has enhanced our basic understanding of life, converting biosciences into “big science” by enabling fast, accurate, low-cost and large-scale genome sequencing – the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s make-up. In 2000, sequencing of one human genome took over 10 years and cost more than a billion dollars. Today, the human genome can be sequenced in one day at a cost of $1,000 and more than a million human genomes are sequenced at scale each year, thanks to the technology co-invented by Professors Balasubramanian and Klenerman. This means we can understand diseases, such as COVID-19 or cancer much better and much more quickly.

Read more about the awarded technology from the Millennium Technology Prize web pages. Or watch this YouTube video to better understand how our genes control or influence more or less all aspects of our life and health.