CORDIS - EU research results
CORDIS

Programme Category

Programme

Article available in the following languages:

EN

SOFT Innovation Prize 2024

 

Fusion research encompasses innovation in the domains of physics and technology over a wide range of specialisations. Fusion researchers are constantly challenging the scientific state of the art and improving the technology. This in turn creates the conditions for innovation, much of which can be exploited in other science and industrial sectors for the benefit of society. The fundamental basis of the Euratom programme is the drive and support for innovation across the product development chain, from research to market. In this context, the researcher plays a critical role.

The SOFT Innovation Prize[[ The prize is named after the biennial Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT), where the

recipients of the prize are unveiled.]] highlights and rewards excellence in innovation in fusion research as well as the quality of the researchers and industries involved. Following the success of the 2022 edition, the European Commission is holding the contest again in association with the next Symposium on Fusion Technology in 2024.

There are no specific categories for this prize. Participants are free to submit an application on any physics or technology innovation that has been developed in magnetic confinement fusion research and that has market potential or has been taken up (or recognised) by industry to be further developed for the market.

The European Commission will publish the specific rules of the contest in 2023t[[ On the Funding & Tenders Portal (https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/programmes/horizon) but also actively publicised elsewhere to maximise participation.]]. It will launch and manage the contest and award the prizes based on the decision of independent experts.

The complete application should include:

  • a technical description of the innovation;
  • a state-of-the-art assessment of the innovation;
  • an account, in general terms, of the market potential for exploiting the innovation.

The Funding and Tenders Portal contains the Model Rules of Contest for prizes.

Essential award criteria: The prizes will be awarded, after the contest has closed, to the applicants who, in the opinion of the jury, best address the following cumulative criteria[[ These criteria may be clarified further in the Rules of Contest.]]:

  1. Originality and replicability: The extent to which the idea is innovative, original and a first-of-a-kind use of the technology in industry or in the domain of application. The description should be clear, logically presented and well-illustrated.
  2. Technical excellence: The extent to which the innovation is demonstrably state-of-the-art and based on excellent science and engineering.
  3. Economic impact and exploitation of the innovation: The extent to which the submission demonstrates understanding and awareness of the relevant innovation aspects, including market potential, needs and business opportunities.

Eligibility criteria:

1. The contest is open to researchers, research teams or industrial participants eligible for funding under the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2021-2025, to researchers or research teams working for a national programme in an ITER partner country[[ Except for Russia, see exceptions in General Annex B.]] or in any non-EU country that has a bilateral fusion cooperation agreement with Euratom in force and to industrial participants taking part in ITER[[ Except for Russia, see exceptions in General Annex B.]]. Example of proof: substantiating documents such as contracts, etc.

2. The researcher, research team or industrial participant must obtain permission from the owner of the intellectual property rights to submit an application and provide supporting documentation.

Expected results:

By awarding the SOFT Innovation Prize, the Commission will showcase innovations in the fusion research sector. This will give visibility to the most dynamic, forward-looking and innovative researchers, research teams or industrial participants. This visibility will provide greater potential for valorising fusion research. Furthermore, the contest will stimulate the EU and international partners to develop a stronger innovation and entrepreneurial culture in fusion research.

The Commission applies an equal opportunities policy. With a view to promoting gender balance in the nuclear field, the Commission would particularly welcome applications from women.

Prize amounts: 1st prize: EUR 50 000, 2nd prize: 30 000, 3rd prize: EUR 20 000.