APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE)


The call for applications for the ASPIRE Prize 2018 is now closed.


The Australian Academy of Science invites applications from Australian researchers for the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASIPIRE) Prize for 2018.

The ASPIRE Prize is an annual award, valued at $25,000 USD (approximately $32,000 – $34,000 AUD), which recognises young scientists from APEC economies who have demonstrated a commitment to both excellence in scientific research, as evidenced by scholarly publication, and cooperation with scientists from other APEC member economies. 

The ASPIRE Prize supports APEC’s mission to:

  • strengthen international science and technology networks
  • enhance economic growth, trade and investment opportunities in harmony with sustainable development, through policies, innovative R&D and technologies, and knowledge sharing
  • improve linkages and efficiency between research and innovation.

ASPIRE 2018 nomination theme

Each year the APEC host economy is asked to provide a theme to guide nominations for the ASPIRE Prize to be awarded in their host year. For its host year of 2018, Papua New Guinea has selected Smart Technologies for Healthy Societies as the ASPIRE nominating theme. This interdisciplinary theme focuses on how scientists are capitalising on smart technologies and digital platforms to provide better health care access and services across the APEC region.

Each member economy, through its representative on the APEC Policy Partnership for Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI), is invited to nominate one young scientist under the age of 40 (as of 31 December 2018) to be considered for the 2018 ASPIRE Prize. Nominees should demonstrate excellence in scientific research and cooperation with scientists from other APEC member economies in subjects such as:

  • biomedical technology
  • healthcare supply chains
  • pharmaceutical technology
  • point-of-systems
  • wearable technology
  • self-help devices
  • artificial gene fusion
  • medical Informatics
  • cell surface display techniques
  • robotics
  • nanomedicine
  • 3D printing and continuous manufacturing
  • blockchain technology and
  • other relevant fields.

Given the important role of science cooperation and research to support economic prosperity across the region, the Australian Government and the Australian Academy of Science are running a national competition to select three Australian finalists. The winner of the national competition, along with other economies’ candidates, will be nominated for the ASPIRE prize which will be presented at an award ceremony during the Tenth APEC PPSTI meeting in Papua New Guinea later this year.

Selection criteria

Applications will be assessed on the following APEC criteria:

  • Excellence in scientific research, as evidenced by scholarly publication
  • Cooperation with scientists from other APEC member economies
  • Contribution to this year’s theme of ‘Smart Technologies for Healthy Societies’ (see above for relevant fields)

The selection panel will also take into consideration the extent to which the applicant uses science to solve real-world problems and/or whether their scientific outputs have practical applications.

Relevance of the application to the Australian Government’s Science and Research Priorities is not a requirement but will be highly regarded. Australian Government priority areas are:

  • food
  • soil and water
  • transport
  • cybersecurity
  • energy
  • resources
  • advanced manufacturing
  • environmental change
  • health.


The application must be submitted by the research office or grants office of the applicant’s institution. Applications from individuals will not be accepted. Each institution may only submit one application on behalf of one early-career researcher (ECR).

Eligible research institutions include:

  • higher education institutions/provider
  • publicly funded research agencies, defined as an Australian organisation to which the following criteria apply:
    • it is at least 50% owned or controlled by the Commonwealth or an Australian state or territory government
    • primarily carries out research and development activities
    • is providing services, or making facilities available, in relation to science and technology; training of persons in the field of scientific or technological research; or collecting, interpreting or publishing information relating to science or technology.
  • cooperative research centres
  • incorporated Australian private and not-for-profit research organisations.

The ECR must:

  • be under the age of 40 as at 31 December 2018
  • be an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident who is a citizen of an APEC member economy, living in Australia at the time of submitting the grant application (if the ECR was not born in Australia, please provide proof of Australian citizenship or Australian permanent residency).

Terms of prize

Australia may nominate one young scientist from Australia under the age of 40 to be considered for the 2018 ASPIRE prize.

The top three Australian ranked applicants from this competition will receive a prize of $2,000 (AUD) each. The highest-ranked applicant will become the Australian nominee for the ASPIRE Prize.

The nominees from each APEC member economy will then be considered by the full APEC Policy Partnership for Science, Technology, and Innovation working group for selection as the 2017 ASPIRE Prize winner, with prize money in the amount of $25,000 USD (equivalent to $32,000 – $34,000 AUD).

Selection process

The Academy will provide the six most highly ranked applicants to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science as a shortlist. The selection of the successful applicant by the Department will be final.

Materials to be submitted (in the following order)

  1. Application form
  2. Proof of Australian citizenship/Australian permanent residency
  3. Candidate’s curriculum vitae
  4. One letter of recommendation (see Notes for referees below)
  5. Photo of nominee (image must be larger than 250x300 pixels)

Notes for referees

The letter of recommendation should be from either:

  • a current or past supervisor
  • a head of school
  • an authorised representative of the research office (or other single authorised central office) of an eligible research institution (as previously specified).

The letter of recommendation should be on letterhead and address the following:

  • the role of the referee
  • whether the referee was involved in the applicant’s work
  • how the applicant has cooperated with APEC economies
  • how the applicant has contributed to the topic
  • the outcomes of the applicant’s research
  • the scientific impact of the applicant’s research.

DEADLINE – 5pm (AEDT) Wednesday 11 April 2018

Completed applications including supporting documentation must be submitted electronically, preferably in PDF format, by a research office or grants office if from the private sector, to grants@science.org.au.

Notification of outcome: mid-May 2018

Applications are considered carefully against the selection criteria by a committee of scientists with diverse expertise. The decisions of the committee are based upon the assessed competitiveness of the proposal. Neither the Academy nor the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science are able to enter into discussion or correspondence regarding the reasons why an application is successful or not.

Further information

For further information contact:

International Programs
Australian Academy of Science
GPO Box 783
Canberra ACT 2601

Email: grants@science.org.au

This program is supported by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Past Australian finalists

The following early- and mid-career researchers were named as finalists for Australia’s nomination to the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE).

2017 finalists

Name Organisation
Professor Dayong Jin University of Technology Sydney
Dr Mohsen Rahmani Australian National University
Associate Professor Sharath Sriram RMIT University

Professor Dayong Jin was named as Australia’s nominee for the 2017 ASPIRE Prize. Find out more about the 2017 finalists

2016 finalists

Name Organisation
Dr Lee Baumgartner Charles Sturt University
Dr Margaret Hardy University of Queensland
Dr Wei Xu Murdoch University

Dr Lee Baumgartner was named as Australia’s nominee for the 2016 ASPIRE Prize. Find out more about the 2016 finalists

2015 finalists

Name Organisation
Dr Jaclyn Brown CSIRO
Dr Katharine Haynes Macquarie University
Dr Hannah Power University of Newcastle

Dr Katharine Haynes was named as Australia’s nominee for the 2015 ASPIRE Prize. Find out more about the 2015 finalists

© 2018 Australian Academy of Science