Nov 17, 2011

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering: new £1million global award for engineering that benefits humanity

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering was launched today (Thursday 17 November) to enthusiastic support from the engineering profession, engineering industry and across the main political parties for its mission to identify and celebrate an outstanding advance in engineering that has created significant benefit to humanity.

The £1 million Prize will be awarded biennially in the name of Her Majesty The Queen to an individual or team of up to three people, of any nationality, directly responsible for advancing the application of engineering knowledge.

As well as recognising and celebrating the best, the Prize will provide an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate how engineers and engineering are making a real difference across the world.

The Prize is the result of a growing realisation in the worlds of business, engineering and policy of the need for a pioneering initiative based in the UK to focus attention on engineering worldwide. A number of major engineering companies have donated to an endowment fund, which is being managed by an independent charitable trust, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, chaired by Lord Browne of Madingley FREng FRS. The Royal Academy of Engineering will deliver the Prize on behalf of the trust.

As well as the search for the winner, the Prize will provide a high-profile, global communications platform to explore the breadth, creativity and impact of engineering of all kinds around the world.

Lord Browne said: "Engineering underpins every aspect of our lives. As the bridge between scientific discovery and commercial application, engineering feeds and clothes us, and enables us to work, travel and communicate. But too often the engineers behind the most brilliant innovations remain hidden. The Queen Elizabeth Prize aims to change that. It will celebrate, on an international scale, the very best engineering in the world. I believe that this prize will inspire the public, especially young people, with a sense of the excitement and the importance of engineering."

Speaking at the launch event, The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, said: "I am delighted that the Queen has put her name to this prestigious prize, which I hope will carry the same stature as the Nobel Prizes and I want to thank the Royal Academy of Engineering and the prize sponsors for making this happen."

"For too long Britain's economy has been over-reliant on consumer debt and financial services. We want to rebalance the economy so that Britain makes things again - high skilled high value manufacturing and engineering should be a central part of our long term future. I hope this prize will go some way to inspire and excite young people about engineering, so that they dream of becoming engineers as they once did in the age of Stephenson and Brunel."

The Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, said: "This Prize flies in the face of the myth that engineering is a part of Britain's past. It's true that we have a proud record - a nation historically at the forefront of scientific breakthroughs and the vanguard of design. But engineering is just as much a part of our future - at the heart of a new economy driven by invention and innovation. The Queen Elizabeth Prize will draw the eyes of the engineering world to Britain. We are bringing engineering home'.

The Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Opposition, said "Britain has been home to some of the world's great engineering feats, from the Iron Bridge in Telford to British involvement in mapping the human genome. But we now face huge global challenges in the future ranging from climate change and famine to an ageing population in the West. Just as engineering has helped us meet the big challenges in the past, it will be engineering that helps us meet these new challenges."

Sir John Parker FREng, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a trustee of the Prize Foundation, said "This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a major shift in public perception of engineering. The products of engineering are everywhere, but too often the engineering and engineers behind even the most brilliant innovations remain hidden from public view. So the sheer excitement and creativity of professional engineering often do not get recognised, let alone celebrated.

"The search for the winning project will provide a platform to explore the best innovation in engineering across the world and inspire the public, especially young people, about the potential of engineering on a global scale."

Prize delivery

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation has been established to oversee delivery of the Prize.

The Foundation is chaired by Lord Browne of Madingley whose fellow trustees are Sir John Parker, President of The Royal Academy of Engineering; Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society and Ms Mala Gaonkar, Managing Director of Lone Pine Capital. The Government Chief Scientist, Professor Sir John Beddington, has accepted an invitation to be adviser to the Foundation.

The day-to-day running of the Prize will be handled by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Ms Anji Hunter has been appointed Director of the Prize.

Prize donors

An initial endowment has been established with support from the following companies: BAE Systems, BG Group, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid, Shell, Siemens, Sony, Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Steel.


The trust is appointing an international, expert judging panel, whose names will be announced at the same time as the call for nominations, in February 2012.

Next steps

Key milestones include:

Appointment of international judging panel February 2012
Call for nominations February 2012
Nominations closed July 2012
Announcement of Prize winner December 2012
Major award event Spring 2013

What next?

Over the coming weeks, more details will be provided on all aspects of the Prize, culminating in the call for nominations in February 2012. Details will be available on the Prize webpages (from 17 November 2011): www.raeng.org.uk/QEprize