What is the prize

The purpose of this prize is to stimulate the development of next generation engine and powertrain technologies using conventional fuels. This should reduce emissions of pollutants in real driving conditions to the lowest level possible in order to improve air quality issues in European cities, while at the same time delivering better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions under the same realistic test conditions.

Why this prize

Health impacts due to air quality issues in European cities need to be addressed in the long term along with the decarbonisation of transport.

This prize aims at reducing the pollution produced by future new vehicles using either gasoline or diesel fuels and their low biofuel blends available on the market. While hybridisation and electrification are expected to play an important role, the reduction of emissions by conventional engines will still be important.

Supporting information:

  • According to the European Environment Agency air pollution is the top environmental risk factor of premature death in Europe
  • Tests affirm that on-road NOX emissions of light-duty diesel vehicles differ substantially between laboratory testing and actual on-road driving, with average discrepancies of 4-7 times even for very recent vehicles
  • WHO studies reveal that exposure to air pollutants during pregnancy has been associated with adverse birth outcomes, including reduced foetal growth, pre-term birth and spontaneous abortions
  • Recent studies on air pollution suggest that exposure in early life can significantly affect childhood development and trigger diseases like allergies, asthma or diabetes later in life


The Horizon prize for the cleanest engine of the future will be awarded to participants coming up with a solution integrated in a system prototype, which will be able to demonste reduction of emissions of pollutants and lowering fuel consumption in real driving conditions without affecting the operational capabilities of the vehicle.


The deadline for the submission was 20 August 2019. The prize will be awarded in early 2020.

Rules and guidance

Who can join the contest?

The contest will be open to any legal entity (including natural persons) or groups of legal entities. The target audience are individuals, SMEs, research centres, universities suppliers of components and car manufacturers.

Exclusion criteria foreseen in the provisions of articles 106(1), 107, 108 and 109 of the Financial Regulation (regulation 966/2012) will apply.

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

How will your application be evaluated?

By 20 August 2019 17:00:00 CET participants have to submit the application through the Participant Portal and deliver the prototype (i.e. the donor vehicle with the installed innovation which has already been tested by the applicants, with no modifications) to the JRC in Ispra.

Applications will be evaluated by an independent expert jury of more than eight members. The jury will evaluate all eligible applications against the award criteria as described in part 5 of the Rules of Contest. The role of the expert jury will be to evaluate the accuracy and robustness of the provided data and assessments, 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 any consequential questions by the jury. The Commission may decide to submit the applicant prototype for verification testing at JRC, which can include chassis dynamometer and Real Driving Emissions tests.

Read the detailed rules of the contest


What does induction prize mean?

This type of prize is used to spur investment in a given direction, by specifying a target prior to the performance of the work.

It is mainly used for research and innovation to

  • identify new approaches or ideas and attract investment in specific areas
  • demonstrate the feasibility or potential of some technologies or promote their development and diffusion

Who can participate?

The contest is open to all legal entities (i.e. natural or legal persons) or groups of legal entities. Some exceptions apply (please see the rules of contest). Applicants that have already received an EU or Euratom prize cannot receive a second prize for the same activities.

How can I apply for the prize?

You can apply to participate in the contest through funding and tender opportunities.

Do I have to develop a complete vehicle in order to participate?

Performance will have to be demonstrated by providing a complete vehicle including the proposed innovation for real drive testing. More information is provided in the Rules of Contest, and please consult the list of car models acceptable as donors for integrating the proposed solution.

Prizes aim to develop and apply only powertrain technologies, no alterations can be applied to such donor vehicle to improve its performance (for instance lightweighting it or improving its aerodynamics or tires).

To which kind of transport mode is the prize targeted?

The prize is targeted to passenger cars only. Cars in which the improvements are achieved by using fuels or stored energy other than the main fuel (i.e. plug-in electricity, hybrids with large batteries, stored compressed gases, etc.) are excluded.

However, it is expected that the innovation can be applied also to light commercial vehicles, normally using similar engines.

Which type of engine is considered?

The future engine prize is targeted on the development of engine and powertrain technologies using conventional fuels – either gasoline or diesel fuels, and their low biofuel blends – sold on the EU market.

How will my technology be tested and evaluated?

Once the contest is closed, a high level jury will evaluate all eligible entries against the general award criteria described in the rules of the contest.

The prize will be awarded to the entry that demonstrates the best solution to the challenge whilst meeting the award criteria.

What are the obligations related to the assignment/spending of the Prize money and on the accountability with respect to the spending of the Prize money?

There are no obligations on assignment and 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.

Read the detailed FAQs of the contest


If you couldn't find the answer to your question, you can read the submission FAQ and/or contact us.



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