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Entries open for the 2020 NZ$250,000 Ryman Prize

Written by Ryman Prize Foundation
on February 14, 2020


Richest prize of its kind to reward the best work in the world for older people

The search is on for the best work in the world that has enhanced quality of life for older people.

Entries are now open for the 2020 Ryman Prize, the only award of its kind which is targeted at improving the health of older people.

The prize winner is selected by an international jury and entry is open to the world’s brightest and best engineers, thinkers, scientists, clinicians or inventors.

The prize will go to the best discovery, invention, medical advance, idea or initiative that enhances quality of life for older people.

The Ryman Prize has been awarded five times since its launch in 2015.

Last year’s winner was Dr Michael Fehlings, a Canadian neurosurgeon who has dedicated a long career to helping older people suffering from debilitating spinal problems.

The Toronto neurosurgeon was chosen for his pioneering work for older people suffering from Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM), a degenerative neck compression problem which is the most common form of injury to the spinal cord.

As well as working on treatment and management of DCM, Dr Fehlings has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition within the medical profession.

The 2018 winner was Japanese inventor Takanori Shibata, the Chief Senior Research Scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

His product PARO, is a drug-free therapeutic robot that uses sensors, robotics and sophisticated Artificial Intelligence software to mimic a real seal. The PARO was created to help ease the burden of older people suffering from dementia.

The 2019 prize attracted a record number of entries and Ryman Prize director David King is expecting more interest this year.

“The aim of the prize is to reward great work so we’re looking forward to seeing what innovations come forward this year. We also hope that the idea of winning the prize will mean that a whole lot of people out there with great ideas to help older people will put them into action.’’

“We are now entering the greatest period of demographic change the world has ever seen. As the number of people aged 75+ in the world grows, so too do the issues they face. People are living longer, and their health needs are becoming more complex. We hope the prize will help address these issues.’’

The prize could go to an initiative or invention as simple as a new walking cane or mobility device, or as complex as a medical advance. In Michael Fehlings’ case, it was years of dedicated work and research into creating better treatment and management of degenerative spinal problems.

While there are plenty of prizes for medicine, there are none specifically aimed at the area of the health of older people. The Ryman Prize, which is modelled on the Nobel Prize for medicine and the Pritzker Prize, aims to fill that gap.

Entry forms for the 2020 Ryman Prize are available at
Entries close at 5pm on Friday, June 26, 2020 (New Zealand time).

About the Ryman Prize:

The Ryman Prize is a $250,000 grant which is awarded to the best invention, idea, research concept or initiative that has enhanced quality of life for older people.
The Ryman Prize is awarded in New Zealand but is open to anyone, anywhere in the world with a bright idea.

The Ryman Prize jury includes:

Professor Brian Draper, Conjoint Professor in the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales.

Professor Sarah Harper CBE, Director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing.

Professor Tim Wilkinson, consulting geriatrician and Associate Dean of Medical Education, Otago School of Medicine.

Dr Naoko Muramatsu, health and ageing research specialist, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Professor Erwin Neher, Nobel Laureate and Professor at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Dr Neher is a biophysicist who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1991.

Dr David Kerr, Ryman Healthcare Chairman, Fellow and Past President of the New Zealand Medical Association, Fellow with Distinction of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

Media advisory:

For interviews or further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Ryman Prize director David King on 03 366 4069 (00643 3664069) or 021 499 602 (006421 499 6902)

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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