in 2011, this is the second time the competition, which looks for
inventions that have delivered global benefits to humanity, has been
The inaugural title was actually shared by five individual
internet pioneers, with the Queen presenting the prize to Sir Tim
Berners-Lee for inventing the World Wide Web.
The foundation that
sponsors the event is chaired by former BP chairman Lord Browne of
Madingley, who remarked that he hoped the prize would help people to
abandon their prejudices about engineering - meaning that the judges
would have to come to it with open minds.
“We have been given a
clean sheet of paper. The internet was a great invention but there are
so many more inventions that benefit humanity,” he said, citing CAT
scans, genetic engineering and autonomous vehicles. “We will never run
out of great ideas.”
Lord Browne commented that areas that have
the potential to produce the winner include software, which he
acknowledged is “changing the way we live our lives”, as well as the
application of medical and natural engineering.
Lord Browne said
although it is administered in the UK, the Queen Elizabeth Prize is a
truly worldwide event, with lofty ambitions of the event gaining
equal standing as the Nobel awards.
“Nominations can be made
from the public, industry, universities, businesses, researchers… We
want to inspire all people to get into engineering.”
He is particularly keen to use the prize to attract more women into the field.
large-scale infrastructure to medical technology, engineers’
achievements transform every aspect of our daily lives,” he said. “Our
research shows that parents are reluctant for their daughters to enter
the field of engineering, believing that other subjects offer them
“The Queen Elizabeth Prize aims to make
heroes and heroines of the engineers who are behind the world’s greatest
innovations, demonstrating that engineering can be a rich and rewarding
career to both men and women.”
To make the prize more accessible
to those who might not otherwise take an interest, the judging panel
includes a notable celebrity. Professor Brian Cox, The former pop
musician turned physicist whose television series on physics and
astronomy have achieved mainstream popularity and caught the imagination
of young people, will be one of the star panelists.
With the UK
facing an acute shortage of engineers - studies have shown 1m more are
needed in this country over the next five years, but only a fraction of
that number are in the pipeline - the prize has the potential to provide
Britain with a home-grown champion, especially if the winner is female.
Browne added: “In the US you have engineering and science companies led
by women - such as GM and IBM - and we need that here in Britain.”
prize is sponsored by BAE Systems, BG Group, BP, GlaxoSmithKline,
Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Shell, Siemens, Sony, Tata and Toshiba.