Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Inducement Prizes

Inducement prizes provide alternative opportunities to develop innovative solutions to challenges by offering a financial reward for completing a specific technological challenge.
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Inducement Prize Contests are a new instrument introduced under Horizon 2020. Inducement prizes offer a reward for the completion of a set technological challenge that has not yet been achieved. They are a way of spurring interest in a particular issue, helping to attract new dynamic innovators to the area, mobilising additional private investment for research, and stimulating interest among the general public.

How do Inducement Prizes work?

Whereas recognition prizes award work that has already been completed, inducement prizes offer rewards for challenges that have not yet been achieved. They define set criteria for a technological challenge and the first person, company, or team to offer a feasible solution is rewarded with a considerable financial prize. This offers an incentive for new researchers or companies to work on a particular area, stimulating innovation, and bringing in additional investment.

Prizes are a way of bringing fresh ideas to problems that seem intractable. They simply set the challenge and offer the reward for its completion, leaving the ideas on how to solve it up to the participants. Inducement Prizes have proved a successful tool for stimulating innovation. Famous examples include the Orteig Prize, which helped pioneer civil aviation in the 1920s, or more recently the Ansari X Prize, which helped develop technological innovation and attract private investment into lost-cost spaceflight. Inducement Prizes allow the European Commission to drive innovation in specific areas of research in an effective but flexible way.

Experiences so far

In 2012 the European Commission piloted an inducement prize offering 2 million euros to inventors who develop a way of keeping vaccines stable in ambient temperatures. The prize was designed to find new solutions to an important challenge and to stimulate innovation in health.  The experiences of this pilot will be drawn upon for the design and implementation of future inducement prize contests launched in the ICT sector.

What's next?

The ICT sector – being dynamic, fast-moving and attractive to many of this century's best innovators - is well positioned to make fruitful use of the Inducement Prizes instrument under Horizon 2020. The European Commission's plan is to launch three ICT-related inducement prizes in 2014-2015.

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