avatar for Josef Bille

Josef Bille

Professor, Institute of Applied Physics, University of Heidelberg

Josef Bille is a professor at the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Heidelberg. Since earning his professorship in 1978, Professor Bille has filed almost 100 patents in the field of ophthalmology and is a pioneer in the area of laser eye correction. He is known for inventing a method for mapping irregularities in the cornea with unprecedented precision and fine-tuning the lasers to repair them. This groundbreaking invention, which uses wavefront technology for the measurement of errors in the human eye, has corrected near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatism in millions of patients worldwide. Wavefront technology is a measurement technology, which uses so-called aberrometers to scan the human eye in a very detailed manner for small errors. By having a very detailed map of these errors, it is possible to devise much more precise surgical procedures (wavefront-guided laser-eye surgery) or to produce tailor-made lenses. For Professor Bille, patents are important for a number of reasons, but two stand out: Firstly, to set up a start-up firm you need to have patents to attract venture capital; secondly, without patents, large competitors can quickly adopt the technology and give you no chance to enter the market. Professor Bille has co-founded five start-ups, mostly with former PhD students, three of which are now large companies with around 250 employees each and a yearly turnover of €100 million. His inventions have helped create around 1 000 jobs in these firms and have led to yearly combined turnover of €300 million. The market for these inventions is large - and growing, not least due to aging populations. The size of the European market for ophthalmic devices was estimated to be worth some €650 million in 2010. Thanks to Professor Bille's inventions, we now have diagnostic and therapeutic methods available for the realisation of perfect vision. For more information, please visit http://www.epo.org/learning-events/european-inventor/finalists/2012/bille.html

My Speakers Sessions

Wednesday, March 6