Brussels, 25 Sep 2003
Whether your interest lies in high-fidelity loudspeakers based on plasma technology, a 40-euro scanning tunnelling microscope with applications in nanotechnology, or using genetic engineering to determine intracellular pH, you need look no further than the three first-prize winners of this year's EU contest for young scientists. Two of the winners come from Germany and the other from Hungary, but contestants from several other countries (Czech Republic, Poland, Netherlands, Russia and Switzerland) won second or third prizes in areas as diverse as computing, biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. (See Annex 1 for details of all prize-winners.)
Some young people may scorn science as a career, but not the 110 young scientists who participated in the 15th EU Contest for Young Scientists in Budapest this week. They have discovered that science can be fun - and rewarding at many levels. From 20-26 September 2003, some of Europe's most promising young scientific talent competed for nine prizes worth €28 500, which were awarded by Achilleas Mitsos, Director-General of Research at the European Commission in a ceremony today at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. The winners were chosen by an international jury of 12 experts (see Annex 2).
The contestants, with ages ranging from 15 to 20, and representing 37 countries across Europe - as well as China, Japan, Korea and the USA - presented 75 winning projects from national competitions covering a wide range of scientific disciplines (see Annex 3). They also had the chance to meet Nobel laureates Ivar Giaever and Sir Harry Kroto, ensuring that just participating in the European Competition was an experience to be remembered for years to come. For the winners of the various awards, it may also prove to be an important springboard for future scientific careers.
Part of the EU's Science and Society programme, the aim of this annual event is to encourage young people to pursue their interest in science and embark on scientific careers. Indeed, as European Commissioner for Research, Philippe Busquin notes, 'in today's knowledge-based society, it is vital for Europe's future that we continue to build a dynamic European research community.' And that means it is also essential that young scientists such as those at the EU contest turn their interest into a career.
The 75 competing projects covered a wide range of scientific disciplines - from engineering and the environment to medicine, chemistry, biology, earth sciences, mathematics and the social sciences. The standard of entrants is always high and several past projects have led to scientific breakthroughs or the setting up of new businesses (see Annex 2 for examples). The event, therefore, provides a unique showcase of the best of European student scientific achievement giving journalists the opportunity to keep their fingers on the pulse of European science today and possible future developments.
The contest provides an invaluable opportunity for science students to meet with other like-minded young people, exchange ideas and experience the stimulation of an international environment. The enthusiasm for science communicated by the contestants in the Young Scientists Contest is unparalleled and projects clearly demonstrate the passion for discovery that is at the root of all scientific research. A love of windsurfing, for example, was the motivation for one past winner to develop an effective wind measuring instrument. The message from the Contest is that science is about pushing the boundaries of knowledge and understanding - and that it can and should be fun as well as useful.
Further information about the EU Young Scientists Contest and downloadable photographs may be found at: http:///europa.eu.int/comm/research/young scientists/code/press-centre_en.htm
You can also Contacts
Stephen P. Gosden
Information & Communication, Research DG, European Commission
Tel: +32.2.296 00 79, Fax: +32.2.295 82 20
For audiovisual media. A Video News Release of the contest (free of rights for broadcasting) is being produced.
To obtain a free copy, please contact Gérald Alary, DDB Focus-Europe - working under contract to the European Commission for this event.
Tel: +32.2.7612029, Fax: +32.2.7611906,