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  Descartes prizes

Aims and Objectives of the Descartes Prizes

The Descartes Prizes are among the activities supported under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme, within the Research Directorate Science and Society.

Science Communication Prize

  • The 2003 Descartes prize for research: rewarding scientific excellence

EU-wide cooperation: a fundamental need and a reality in the European Research Area

The projects selected for the shortlist involved researchers from 21 countries in Europe and beyond. This clearly demonstrated that cross-European collaboration is the best way to tackle problems which know no national borders - from Alzheimer's disease and hormone replacement therapy to giant tidal waves. The 2003 Descartes competition also saw the growing involvement of Accession and non-European countries. Scientists from the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Russia were among the participants.

An increased role for female scientists

In 2003, two of the eight finalist projects were co-ordinated by women. This confirmed the general trend observed in that year's applications of an increase in the number of female scientists involved as project coordinators (from 13% in 2002 to 17% in 2003). This is an encouraging sign that more women are being attracted to a career in science.

EU teams at the cutting edge of technology and innovation

The finalists in 2003 represented Europe's excellence at the cutting edge of key science and technology sectors:

  • First global network providing autonomous services to internet users

  • Designing the next generation of environmentally friendly aircraft

  • First steps towards controllable, self-assembling, molecular machines

  • Understanding tidal waves - protecting Europe's coastal communities

  • Paving the way for roll-up screens and switch-on wallpaper

  • Pinpoint positioning in a wobbly world

  • Towards new drugs to help post-menopausal women

  • Alzheimer's disease - genetic discoveries pave the way for cure

  • The Descartes Prize Finalists 2003

    The Descartes Award Ceremony

    The Ceremony took place on 20 November 2003 in Rome. It was hosted by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei which was marking its 400th anniversary. The ceremony was preceded by a seminar on mobility and trans-national scientific careers.

    The Descartes Grand Jury brought together representatives from academic, industrial and public life. Chaired by Professor Erne Ergma, Vice President of the Academy of Sciences of Estonia, the Jury included Professor Helena Illnerová, President of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; Mr. Pantelis Kyriakides, Vice President of the European Patent Office; Professor Anna Roosevelt, curator of the Field Museum in Chicago; Dr. Ion Siotis, a physicist and, until recently, President of the National Hellenic Research Foundation; and Rudi Thomaes, President and CEO of Alcatel Bell.

    New Jury members in 2003 were: Prof. Jose Mariano Gago, Prof of Physics of the Lisbon Institute of Technology and former Minister for Science and Technology, and Prof. Wubbo Ockels, Head of the European Space Agency's Education Office.

    The Descartes Prize Laureates 2003

    Descartes Prizes:    2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000