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Brussels, 23 September 2014
26 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 with and for 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 20. 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:
originality and creativity;
skill and thoroughness in the way the project has been carried out;
reasoning and clarity in the interpretation of the results;
top class presentation of the project, both in the written work and during the interviews.
The judges also take into account how much support a team had from teachers and other mentors.
The jury of the 2014 contest in Warsaw was composed of 18 members
President of the Jury : Dr. Henrik Aronsson – Environment SWEDEN
EUCYS in numbers
Table of participation
Participants per year from 1989 to 2014
A total of 43 different countries have taken part in EUCYS since 1989. Currently, 40 countries have national organisers:
EU Member States (factsheet per country)
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
Associated and other European countries (factsheet per country)
International guest countries (factsheet per country)
EUCYS and Science
Since 2008, 591 projects have competed and the scientific fields that have the most projects are Biology (103), Engineering (102) and Physics (96). The winning projects also come mainly from these three fields (2008 – 2013).
EUCYS and Gender
Of the 2561 EUCYS participants since 1989, 792 were female. In 2014, 41 young women and 69 young men will be present. 168 female participants, some in the same teams, have won prizes over the 25 years. From the 678 prizes given out since 1989, 131 were won by all-female teams, 499 by all-male teams and 48 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. This year we reached 37%.
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 one female scientists at a Science: it’s a girl thing! stand to answer contestants’ questions as well as an exhibition of photos from the Science: it’s a girl thing! photo contest: “What does science means to you?”.
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:
Martin Hairer from Austria In 1991 he won a COMETT Award for an electonics project –is now a Professor based at the University of Warwick, in the UK and works in a field of random systems called stochastic analysis. He has developed a theory to accurately characterise random systems that change as time passes, for example the breakdown of a magnetic field as a magnet is heated up. He has won a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council to refine his theory and work out how it can be applied to different physical systems. He is winner of the 2014 Fields Medal, the world’s foremost maths prize, for his work on random systems
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. She is also one of the Jury member of EUCYS since 2012.
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.
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.