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Certain types of EU funding can be granted as a prize in order to promote innovation or to reward achievements and excellence.


Prizes are given directly by the Commission, usually to those working on projects that promote societal development. Scientists and researchers are good candidates for this type of financial incentive. The winner of a contest will receive cash, publicity coverage or promotion as a reward.

Prizes are awarded in accordance with the principles of transparency and equal treatment. They cannot be awarded directly without a contest.

The rules of a contest specify

  • eligibility criteria
  • final date for the registration of applicants, if required, and for the submissions of applications
  • exclusion criteria
  • award criteria
  • amount of the prize or prizes
  • arrangement for the payments of prizes to the winners after the award

Applicants are informed as soon as possible of the outcome of the evaluation of their application, and in any case within 15 calendar days after the award decision has been taken by the authorising officer.

Promoting the green and digital transitions

The New European Bauhaus initiative has the ambition to make the Green Deal a cultural, human-centred and positive, tangible experience. Everyone should be able to feel, see and experience the green and digital transformation and the way it enhances our quality of life. Read more about the 2022 New European Bauhaus Prize winners. 

Promoting innovation

Often, prizes are rewards to winners of contests from Horizon, the EU’s flagship programme for research and innovation. Horizon prizes offer a cash reward to those who can most effectively meet a defined challenge. The aim is to stimulate innovation and come up with solutions to problems that matter to European citizens.

Examples of EU awards and cash prizes for innovative solutions to societal challenges

  • the EU Prize for Women Innovators is a cash prize awarded every year to European women who founded a successful company that exemplified market innovation. It judges contestants on breakthrough innovation, impact and inspiration.
  • EIC Horizon Prize aims to solve a major challenge facing society, without detailing how this should be achieved or who should achieve it. These prizes are open to anyone willing to think outside the box across sectors and disciplines. The prize is awarded to those who best meet the challenge.
  • the Horizon Impact Award recognises and celebrates outstanding projects that have provided value to society

Celebrating Europe’s culture

In order to increase the visibility of Europe's cultural and audiovisual sectors, the European Commission supports prizes and initiatives under the Creative Europe programme. It is designed to reward achievement, highlight excellence, and raise awareness of Europe's culture and heritage, as demonstrated by the examples below. 

  • The Young Talent Architecture Award (YTAA), granted annually since 2016, was created to highlight outstanding projects in architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture done by students from all over Europe and a selection of other countries
  • The European Union Prize for Literature is an annual initiative to recognise the best emerging authors in Europe

Prize recipients

The most common categories of prize winners are young people/students, professionals, and public bodies.

Some examples of past winners include:

  • a university student working on shaping competition policy in the era of digitalisation 
  • a young film maker designing a poster for a European film festival
  • a journalist showcasing journalistic excellence covering migration
  • a teacher exploring best practices in teaching about the EU 
  • a recently graduated architect competing for a young talent architecture award 
  • a company designing an incubation centre or best practices in environment
  • a local authority working on European mobility week
  • a representative in an EU Member State who promotes or re-creates an award scheme in their country
  • individuals or groups who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought (The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought)