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Coordinated approach can unlock the potential of challenge prizes


The next Framework programme has the potential to make prizes a powerful tool of EU research funding, says Alexander Mäkelä.

As a form of research funding, challenge prizes have several proven benefits. They open up the innovation process, fostering entrepreneurship and collaboration between industries. They open up problems to sectors and people outside the R&D mainstream. This inclusive and open nature encourages disruptive innovation and helps to leverage the prize fund, as contestants produce many possible solutions and invest their own time and resources.

With discussions on the EU’s Framework 9 programme, due to start in 2021, taking shape, the use of prizes offering a monetary reward for the best solution to a predefined challenge in Europe warrants further investigation.

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