Three innovative approaches to using the Internet to improve the lives of people with diabetes have been recognised by Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk in its NovoRapid Internet Inspiration Initiative.

The three winners – an Israeli graphic designer, an Australian nurse, and a Danish physician – will each receive a prize of $20,000. Each has close personal or professional experience of diabetes.

Among the winning ideas was "Glick It!", an online program that helps patients with diabetes eat the right foods they need – at home or in restaurants – based on their insulin dosage and blood sugar. Glick It! was developed by Miquel Goldstein, a 41-year-old Israeli graphic designer who has a diabetic parent.

"Winning this contest is really wonderful, particularly as its world-wide," said Goldstein. He envisions Glick It! being used either online or in a hand-held PDA.

Another winner was "Insulin Man", an online graphic program that helps patients with diabetes fully understand their complicated disease. Catharine McNamara, who developed Insulin Man! is a nurse and diabetes educator in Melbourne, Australia, whose grandmother had diabetes.

McNamara described winning the prize as "quite incredible". She has already been using a material model of Insulin Man in her practice, where she and has found it to be an extremely effective educational device.

The final prize went to "MOVE", described by the judges as a unique virtual community of people interested in healthy living. The service, would use patient cell phones and hand-held computers to provide patients with information regarding diet, exercise, and medication regimens, directly related to where they were in the world at a given time

Dr. Peter Jacobsen, who said he was "thrilled" by the news that he had won, said that he believes MOVE is needed by patients because it completely involves them in their own treatment.

"I work with diabetic people and there’s a lot of improvement in treatment in terms of medications and so forth, but I think it’s very important for people to be involved in their treatment. Healthy living should be a part of the patient’s life – not just receiving treatment," added Dr. Jacobsen.

"We began this process with the firm belief that those most likely to come up with innovative ways to use the Internet to help people with diabetes would be those who care for such people, and the people themselves," explained Jens Holmstrup, head of Novo Nordisk E- Business,

Dr. Vincent Col, one of the jurors who selected the winning entries noted that "we must listen to the people who live with diabetes every day – only they know best what needs they would like to have fulfilled."

Novo Nordisk says it will now follow the winners who choose to turn their concepts into online realities. "Novo Nordisk will also build the winning concepts into our Internet strategy for people with diabetes and their caretakers throughout the world," promised Holmstrup.

In addition to presenting the three $20,000 awards, Novo Nordisk will be awarding another $D 1,000 to five runners-up in each of the three categories: doctor; nurse or non-medical healthcare professionals; and person with diabetes or their family members.

The winners will receive their awards at ceremonies held in Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Canada.