Young European Scientists' Award 2003: EU's top teenagers excel in nanotechnology, plasma physics and biotechnology

September 29, 2003

Brussels, 26 September 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. Yesterday in Budapest the European Commission awarded the prize to two young Germans and a Hungarian researcher. But contestants from several other countries (the Czech Republic, Poland, the Netherlands, Russia and Switzerland) won second an third prizes in areas as diverse as computing, biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics.

"As demonstrated by the latest Eurobarometer surveys, science is not always at the top of young Europeans' wish list when chosing their studies or future career", said European Reseaerch Commissioner Philippe Busquin. "If we want to foster Europe's competitiveness and reach our objective of raising EU spending on research to 3% of our average GDP, we have to stop the brain drain, increase the mobility of researchers across Europe and boost the number of young graduates in the EU. The EU contest for young scientists encourages teenagers to come forward with new, bright ideas, and sends them the right message: study science and your efforts will be rewarded."

Science is fun

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, awarded by the European Commission in a ceremony yesterday at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. The winners were chosen by an international jury of 12 experts.

Nobel Prize laureates of the future?

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. They also had the chance to meet Nobel laureates Ivar Giaever and Sir Harry Kroto. For the winners of the various awards, it may also prove to be an important springboard for future scientific careers.

Science and society talk to each other

As 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. In today's knowledge-based society, it is vital for the future of Europe's 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 interests into careers.

75 competing projects

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 creation of new businesses. The event, therefore, provides a unique showcase for the best of European student scientific achievement.

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15 th European Union contest for young scientists

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DN: IP/03/1296 Date: 26/09/2003

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