Birth Day Prize

Improve care given during delivery in a health facility in order to reduce the mortality of mothers and babies around the world.

The winner is announced

On 13 February 2018, Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Mark Suzman, Chief Strategy Officer and President, Global Policy & Advocacy, for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Clarisse Lhoste, Managing Director, MSD Belgium and Luxembourg, and MSD for Mothers’ senior executive Ambassador awarded the Horizon Birth Day Prize at a ceremony in Brussels, Belgium.

The 'Birth day' Prize is an initiative of the European Commission which has committed €1 million, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledging another €1 million and a further €500 000 donated by the MSD for Mothers.

The €1 million first winner awarded by European Commission went to the research team from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in France, led by Prof Alexandre Dumont. The solution, QUARITE (Quality of care, risk management, and technology in obstetrics to reduce hospital-based maternal mortality in Senegal and Mali), developed a method of analysing and tracing the causes of maternal deaths in hospitals in these two low-income countries, and then applied that knowledge to prevent more deaths. This reduced maternal deaths in hospitals overall by 15%, and by as much as 35% in district hospitals.

CHAI MNH Nigeria (team led by Dr Owens Wiwa of the Clinton Health Access Initiative) is the second winner of the Horizon Birth Day Prize. The €1 million award was committed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This is a managerial intervention at district level, involving health centres and hospitals and skilled birth attendants. It is an integrated programme focused on ensuring that at risk deliveries occurring in communities or health facilities are referred upwards in the system and dealt with on time.

The third winner, the WOMAN Trial run by Prof Haleema Shakur-Still and her team of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, tested and validated the use of a blood clot stabilising drug as a first line treatment for post-delivery bleeding, the leading cause of maternal mortality around the world. The € 500,000 cheque was awarded by MSD for Mothers.

Maternal and newborn health is high on the Commission's agenda, as the research projects funded by DG Research and Innovation cover a wide range of the challenges faced by mothers and their infants all over the world: premature birth, prevention and treatment of infectious and non-communicable diseases, reproductive and sexual health promotion, improved guidelines and evidence base for safer deliveries. Through EU programmes for research and innovation, namely Horizon 2020, and its predecessor, the 7th Framework Programme, the Commission has invested more than €740 million into research related to maternal and newborn health.

Birth Day Prize

Why this Prize?

Around the world, hundreds of thousands of women and babies die on the day of birth, and millions more are left with serious illness.

Thanks to global efforts, since 1990 maternal deaths have dropped worldwide by 44%. However, deaths and serious health effects for both mothers and their new babies are still unacceptably high, especially in low and middle income countries.

Some figures:

  • A recent WHO report estimates that 303 000 women died in 2015 from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth
  • According to UNICEF, 5.9 million children per year die before their 5th birthday, of which 2.65 million are newborn babies
  • 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries; most of these are due to preventable or treatable conditions (source: WHO factsheet)


The Horizon Prize for the Birth day will be awarded to a solution that best demonstrates a reduction in maternal and/or newborn morbidity and mortality and/or stillbirths during facility-based deliveries. This solution will need to be novel, safe and scalable.

Details for the award of the prize are specified in the Rules of Contest

Rules & Guidance

Who can participate?

The contest is open to any legal entity (including natural persons) or groups of legal entities.

Participants who have already been awarded an EU or Euratom prize cannot receive a second prize for the same activities.

How will your application be evaluated?

By 6 September 2017 17:00:00 CET participants have to submit the application through the Participant Portal.

Applications will be evaluated by a jury of independent experts. The jury will evaluate all eligible applications against the award criteria as described in part 6 of the Rules of the Contest. The role of the expert jury will be to evaluate the accuracy and robustness of the data and assessments provided, and mark them accordingly.

In order to be able to better evaluate and compare applications, applicants may be invited to hearings to provide explanations to the jury.


The payment of the additional prizes is under the sole and independent responsibility of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for Mothers. Additional information can be accessed through the following links:

Read the detailed rules of the contest


What is the difference between a 'prize' and a 'grant'?

Horizon Prizes are a new instrument that offer a financial reward for developing a breakthrough solution to societal or technological problems; these prizes are awarded for the delivery of a pre-defined result (included in the prize application), while grants are funding research projects based on a grant proposal that will be carried out in the future.

Can beneficiaries of Horizon 2020/FP7 projects on a related subject apply for the prize?

Recipients of funding from a Horizon 2020/FP7 grant in a related field to the prize topic may apply for the prize without breaching the Rules of Contest. The award of the prize will have no consequences to the grant funding.

Is it mandatory to register when you intend to apply?

The registration is no longer requested. The Rules of Contest only specify the deadline for submission of applications.

What are the obligations related to the assignment/spending of the prize money and the accountability of spending?

There are no obligations on assignment/spending of the prize money and no obligations on accountability with respect to the spending of the prize money. This will not be subject to an audit.

Are there promotional obligations for the prize winner?

The Rules of Contest indicate that there is an obligation to promote the prize and its results by providing targeted information to multiple audiences in a strategic and effective manner, and to display the EU logo and one of the following texts (depending on the prize awarded):

  • For the first winner “This action has been awarded the Horizon Birth day Prize from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme”
  • • For the winners of additional prizes "This action has been awarded an additional prize in the Horizon Birth day Prize Contest by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation" or "This action has been awarded an additional prize in the Horizon Birth day Prize Contest by the Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp."

What is the nature and level of the required evidence as referred to in Section 6 of the Rules of Contest, and is this evidence expected to be part of the application?

The nature and level of the required evidence is described in detail in section 6.1 of the Rules of Contest. The application should include all the required information outlined in Part A and Part B of the application. Additional evidence supporting the claims in Part A and Part B of the application can be requested in preparation of the jury hearings.

I want to apply for the Horizon Prize. Where can I find the template?

The application template is ready and available when clicking on the "Start Submission" button on the Participant Portal Page dedicated to the Birth day Prize. This should not be confused with the evaluation template that will be developed at a later stage, and will be made available when finalised and adopted.

Would a company with a patent protecting a potential solution to the societal issue outlined be eligible to apply?

Yes, provided that the application fulfills the "novel" aspect of the evaluation criteria - the Rules of Contest clearly state that "the application has to be novel and developed by the contestant. The novelty of the application can be either in the application itself or in the way it is being implemented (i.e. an already existing application that is being used in a novel manner, i.e. in a different context or at scale)".

If a company is awarded with this prize, do the Intellectual and/or Industrial Property Rights (IPR) change in anyway? Will the company still maintain the IPR of the awarded application?

As general rule, and if not declared otherwise in the Rules of Contest, the Intellectual and/or Industrial Property Rights (IPR) will remain that of the winner.

The text of the Rules of Context is slightly different from the text of the prize in the "H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: Health, demographic change and wellbeing". Which text should we take as a reference in the preparation the proposal?

The Rules of Contest have been developed based on the provisions of the Work Programme and are in line with them, therefore the Rules of Contest are to be considered as the reference document for the Horizon Birth day Prize.

Read the Submission FAQs


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