Fusion research encompasses innovation in the domains of physics and technology over a wide variety of specialisations. Fusion researchers are constantly challenging the scientific state-of-the-art and improving the technology thereby creating the conditions for innovation, much of which can be exploited in other science and industrial sectors for the benefit of society. The fundamental basis of the Euratom Programme is the drive and support for innovation across the product development chain from research to market. In this context the researcher plays a critical role.
The SOFT Innovation Prize is being offered to highlight and reward excellence in innovation that can be found in fusion research as well as the quality of the researchers and industries involved. Following the success of first four editions of the SOFT Innovation Prize awarded by the Commission under Euratom Research and Training Programme 2014-2020 (in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020), the European Commission is holding the contest again in association with the next Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT) in 2022.
There are no specific categories for this prize. Contestants are free to submit an application concerning any physics or technology innovation that has been developed in magnetic confinement fusion research and that has market potential or has been taken up (or recognised) by industry to be further developed for the market.
The specific rules of the contest will be published in 2021 by the European Commission, which will launch and manage the contest and award the prize based on the judgement of independent experts.
The complete application for the 'SOFT Innovation Prize' should include:
For the Model Rules of Contest for Prizes please see the Funding and Tenders Portal.
Essential award criteria: The prize will be awarded, after closure of the contest, to the applicant(s) who in the opinion of the jury best addresses the following cumulative criteria:
1. The contest is open to researchers or research teams funded under the Euratom Research and Training Programme, to researchers or research teams working for a national programme in an ITER partner country or in any third country that has a bilateral fusion cooperation agreement with Euratom in force and to industrial participants participating in the ITER. Example of proof: the Commission may request substantiating document such as contracts, etc.
2. The researcher, research team or industrial participant must obtain permission from the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to submit an application and provide supporting documentation. The owner of the IPR should comment on the state of the IPR, i.e. free or contractually embedded, and name of possible contractor(s).
By awarding the ‘SOFT Innovation Prize’, the Commission will showcase innovations in fusion research sector giving visibility to the most dynamic, forward-looking and innovative researchers, research teams or industrial contestants. This visibility will provide greater potential for valorisation of the fusion research. Furthermore, the contest will stimulate the EU and international partners to develop a stronger innovation and entrepreneurial culture in fusion research.
Prize amounts: 1st Prize: EUR 50 000, 2nd Prize: 30 000, 3rd Prize: EUR 20 000.
 The Prize is named after the biennial Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT) during which the
recipients of the prize are presented
On the Funding & Tenders Portal (https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/programmes/horizon) but also actively publicised elsewhere to maximise participation.
Further clarification of these criteria might be published in the Rules of Contest.