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This page was published on 02/05/2007
Published: 02/05/2007


Published: 2 May 2007  
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Science in society  |  International cooperation


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The European Commission’s Descartes Prizes for international scientific excellence now accepting applications

The European Commission is now accepting applications for its prestigious European Research Awards recognising international cooperation and science communication. With prize money totalling EUR 1.7 million, the European Research Awards, which began in 2000, are comprised of two individual prizes, the Descartes Prizes for Trans-national Collaborative Research, and the Prizes for Science Communication. Applicants have until 17 July to submit their bid for a chance at an award representing one of the EU’s top policy goals: scientific excellence.

A recent winner: the High Energy Stereoscopic System project © H.E.S.S. project
A recent winner: the High Energy Stereoscopic System project
© H.E.S.S. project
The 2000 Lisbon European Council lifted international R&D cooperation to the top of the EU agenda, and with it came renewed interest in excellence in cross-border research in Europe. The Descartes prize emerged out of the desire to recognise cutting-edge research undertaken between Member States while encouraging public awareness and support of the knowledge-based economy.

The Descartes Prize for Trans-national Research will be awarded to up to four teams of researchers whose work has produced particularly significant results in key thematic areas. Projects eligible for the prize can come from any scientific discipline, including economics, social science and the humanities. At least one participant from the project must be from a Member State though the research itself doesn’t necessarily have to be EU-funded. Winning entries will be selected by a Grand Jury chaired by former French Minister for Research and astronaut Claudie Haigneré. The Grand Jury will also determine the number of prizes awarded. This year only online submissions are being accepted.

In 2004, the Prize for Science Communication was added to the Descartes series and recognises science journalism, broadly covering science communicator of the year, science writer of the year, and the best audiovisual documentary of the year. The Communication prize is a sort of “prize of prizes” open to Europeans who have already been honoured with an award sometime during the previous year.

The most recent round of prizes was awarded in March of this year. Recipients of the awards included a project that revolutionised existing astronomical observation, the High Energy Stereoscopic System; a project that introduced a novel way of producing hydrogen, the Hydrosol project; and a project that contributes to our understanding of AIDS and cancer treatment, the Apoptosis project.

This year’s science communicator’s winners included five projects that ranged from writers for the children’s magazine Eureka to the creator of Italy’s first combined interactive science and technology museum and business centre.

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See also

Descartes Prize homepage
How to apply
Complete list of most recent recipients (Collaborative research)
Complete list of most recent recipients (Communication)

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