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Brussels, 24 September 2013
25 years of the European Union Contest for Young Scientists
What is the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS)?
The Contest was initiated in 1989 when then European Commission President Jacques Delors took up a challenge from Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands to organise a Europe-wide student science fair. Philips had organised a similar event since 1968. The European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) was launched with the aim of encouraging young people to get involved in science and eventually embark on a career in research. The contest is part of the Science and Society activities managed by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission.
Who can take part?
The contest is open to all EU Member States, countries associated to the EU research framework programme and invited guest countries that should have a Science and Technology agreement with the EU. To be able to participate, the country has to have a national contest and a national organiser confirmed by their Ministry of Science/Education.
The participants in the EU Contest for Young Scientists are already winners! To enter the contest, participants must have previously won a competition for young scientists at the national level. This high standard sets the EU Contest for Young Scientists apart from similar competitions. Entries from both individuals and small teams of up to three people are allowed, and the students must be aged between 14 and 21. The projects cover a wide range of scientific disciplines.
The event is held in a different city every year. At the venue, each participating team is allocated a stand in an exhibition area to display its findings to the jury and other visitors. The jury is made up of leading scientists from both academia and industry. Before the event, the jury carries out a preliminary assessment of entries. At the event, each team is interviewed by at least three jury members. During these intense interviews, the jury is looking for the following:
The judges also take into account how much support a team had from teachers and other mentors.
The jury of the 2013 contest in Prague was composed of 18 members
President of the Jury : SWEDEN Dr. Henrik Aronsson -Environment
BELGIUM Dr. Robert Hancké - Social Sciences
BELGIUM Dr. Estelle Mossou - Physics
CZECH REP. Prof. Milan Macek - Medicine
DENMARK Dr. Morten Lennholm - Engineering
EPO Philpott Grant - Engineering
FRANCE Prof. Evelyne Cottereau - Engineering
FRANCE Dr. Yann Ollivier - Mathematics/Computing
HUNGARY Dr. Attila Borics - Chemistry/Biochemistry
IRELAND Prof. Tony Fagan - Engineering
ITALY Dr. Lina Tomasella - Physics
MALTA Prof. Maria Cordina - Medicine
PORTUGAL Prof. Maria Ana Viana-Baptista - Geophysics/Earth
PORTUGAL Dr. Luisa Pereira - Biology
SLOVAKIA Dr. Peter Celec - Medicine
SWEDEN Prof. Karin Tonderski - Biology/Ecology
UK Prof. Derek Bell - Biology/Environment
UK Dr.James Burrow - IT/Computer Science
EUCYS in numbers
25 years of EUCYS
23 cities have hosted the contest
2451 contestants participated since 1989
599 prizes since 1989
The number of participants has increased every year since 1989 from 59 to 126 in 2013 with a peak in 2009 in Paris with 137 contestants.
Table of participation
A total of 43 different countries have taken part in EUCYS since 1989. Currently, 40 countries have national organisers:
Austria– Belgium – Bulgaria– Czech Republic– Denmark – Estonia– Finland – France – Germany– Greece – Hungary – Ireland– Italy – Latvia – Lithuania– Luxembourg – Malta– Poland– Portugal – Slovakia– Slovenia– Spain– Sweden– United Kingdom - European Schools
EUCYS and Gender
Of the 2 451 EUCYS participants since 1989, 751 were female. In 2013, 44 young women and 82 young men will be present. 168 female participants, some in the same teams, have won prizes over the 25 years. From the 599 prizes given out since 1989, 109 were won by all-female teams, 445 by all-male teams and 45 by mixed teams.
The participation of young women was low at the start, but since 1997 has generally exceeded 30% with a peak of around 41% in 2005.
In order to encourage young women to choose science studies, in June 2012 the European Commission launched a communication campaign on Women in Research and Innovation. Under the slogan Science it's a girl thing! the first phase of the campaign targets girls, aged 13-18. At this year’s contest, there will be two female scientists at a Science: it’s a girl thing! stand to answer contestants’ questions.
Where are they now?
Some past contestants, not only the winners, have gone on to set up cutting-edge companies or work at world class research facilities or universities. All see EUCYS as having been a great opportunity and a real springboard for their career in science.
Here are a few examples:
Lina Tomasella from Italy won First Prize in 1989 at the first EUCYS contest in Brussels. She did not know that her project Toxicity of colour dyes used as tracers' would lead her to become a researcher at the National Institute for Astrophysics in Padua.
In 1993 at the 5th edition of the contest in Berlin, Antoni Camprubi, from Spain won first prize with a geology project. He describes the contest as a landmark in his career. He is now a Professor at the Institute of Geology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Patrick Collison from Ireland won second prize in 2005 in Moscow with his project “Croma: a new dialect of lisp'. He now has his own multinational company Stripe and he is not yet 24. Patrick has built up a team of talented engineers and developers who have turned Stripe into a growing force in the online payments world.
Martina Hafner from Austria, who is currently doing a PhD at Johannes Kepler University of Linz, won second prize in Valencia (2007) with her project 'Energy from maize straw'. She says that it is the contest that convinced her that she had a future in science.
Lithuanian Laurynas Pliuskys won third prize at Dublin (2004) for his project 'An analysis of the water in the lakes of Trakai and a new biosensor for the determination of heavy metals'. He is currently doing a PhD in biomedicine at Oxford University.