Scientific awareness –
There are three major European Commission science
awards. They aim to raise scientific awareness, stimulate
research and encourage young scientists.
EU Descartes Prize
About the Prize
The Descartes Prize is open to teams of scientists
who have achieved outstanding results from European
collaborative research projects. The Prize covers
all areas of scientific endeavour, including health,
safety, energy, the environment and the social sciences.
Entries are not limited to EU-funded projects
Launched in 2000, the first Descartes Prize was awarded
to three projects: one led by Birmingham University
(UK) for their work chemistry close to the absolute
zero; another prize went to a team from Sussex University
(UK) for their innovative work on the XPD gene; and
the third team, led by Philips in Eindhoven (NL),
focused on plastic transistors.
In 2001, the Descartes Prize was awarded two teams
of scientists; the first, led by Leuven University
(BE), shed new light on AIDS drugs, and the other,
which was led by King's College (UK), delved into
asymmetric catalysts for chemical manufacturing.
In 2002, the Descartes Prize was won by two projects
in the fields of medicine and astrophysics. The first,
led by Aarhus University Hospital (DK), provided leading
research into multiple sclerosis, a painful degenerative
disease affecting thousands of Europeans. The second,
led by the University of Amsterdam (NL), unravelled
the mysterious astronomical phenomenon known as gamma
ray bursts, offering insight into how stars and planets
In 2003, eight teams were chosen as finalists to
compete for the Grand Prize. The two winners will
be announced in November by Research Commissioner
Busquin and the Grand Jury President Ene Ergma.
To be eligible for the Prize, the minimum number
of participants is two legal entities established
in different Member States of the EU or Associated
States to the Sixth Framework Programme. At least
one of those legal entities must be established in
a Member State or an Associated Candidate Country.
Entries including teams from outside the EU may be
eligible, provided they meet the above requirement.
Qualifying projects must have been completed by the
time of the application; the Prize is not a financial
tool to support research project proposals. The monetary
award is up to €1 million, which is divided
among up to 5 winners.
information on the Descartes Prize
European Young Scientists Contest
Every year, the EU celebrates its best young scientific
talent at its Young Scientists Contest. Now into its
17th year, this high profile event is open to young
people aged between 15 and 20 years old. Participants
in the contest are the winners of national competitions
held in the EU Member and Associated States.
While demand for scientists and researchers is rising,
the number of young people taking up scientific studies
and careers is dipping. The contest gives Europe’s
best young scientific brains a forum to display their
wares and connect with other like-minded youth from
The contest aims to reward scientific achievement
and to demonstrate to a wider audience that science
is fun. The contestants, all potential Nobel prize
winners in the making, get the inspirational opportunity
to meet real life Nobel laureates.
The 2004 contest – the 16th – took place
in Dublin, Ireland. It brought together young scientists
from 34 European countries, as well as China and the
USA. Their 73 projects competed for nine top prizes
worth €28 500. The three first prizes went to
a condenser microphone, a method for synthesising
N Methyl Flouexetine in the laboratory, and ultrasonic
detector for gas chromatography.
Under the slogan ‘with bright minds to the bright
future’, the 2005 event is due to take place
in Moscow, Russia, from 17 to 22 September
2005. The packed contest features some 126
young people from 35 countries exhibiting 79 innovative
information on the EU Young Scientist Contest
Science Communication Prize
The European Commission is planning to launch a prize
for effective scientific communication through the
media.The prize aims to recognise and reward high
quality, entertaining, accurate, and educational scientific
reporting in the media, such as TV programmes, publications,
Internet portals. The details of the prize are currently
under discussion and an announcement will be made
soon. Watch this space!