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Outstanding innovation

In 1969 Freeman Fox & Partners, designers of the Severn Bridge, shared the first ever MacRobert Award with the Rolls-Royce team responsible for the Pegasus jump-jet engine.

Since then no civil engineering project has won, although Netlon was honoured for its development of Tensar geogrids in 1984, British Gas's pipeline-clearing 'intelligent pig' collected the award in 1989, and subsea cable and pipeline ploughs from Soil Machine Dynamics got the judges' vote in 1994.

Last year's winner, a new type of asthma inhaler, could hardly be more dissimilar to the Dome, but over the years the award has gone to a dazzling diversity of products and techniques. In 1991 the Rover Group's Metro shared the honours with a night vision system, in 1995 it was the ultrasonic domestic gas meter, in 1997 an innovative circuit breaker for overhead power lines. All winners shared one characteristic which impressed the judges: outstanding innovation of benefit to the community.

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