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


Australia’s nominee - Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran from RMIT - has been announced as the winner of the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASIPIRE) Prize 2018, at the 10th APEC Policy Partnership for Science, Technology and Innovation meeting held in Papua New Guinea on 14 August 2018.

Associate Professor Bhaskaran’s development of stretchable oxide electronics will see many applications in wearable electronics and sensing. Her breakthrough could lead to health benefits like warning wearers of high levels of UV or pollution, as well as industry applications such as detecting dangerous gases in mines or smart contact lenses that could detect biomarkers in tears.

The two Australian finalists for the 2018 nomination were Professor Michael Milford from Queensland University of Technology, and Professor Igor Aharonovich from University of Technology Sydney.

Professor Michael Milford conducts interdisciplinary research into robotics, neuroscience and machine learning to create new robotic and autonomous vehicle technologies. Professor Igor Aharonovich’s research focuses on developing new materials for medical diagnostics and imaging, which could lead to early detection of many diseases.


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 

For its host year of 2018, Papua New Guinea selected Smart Technologies for Healthy Societies as the ASPIRE nominating theme. This interdisciplinary theme focused on how scientists are capitalising on smart technologies and digital platforms to provide better health care access and services across the APEC region.

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.

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 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.

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.

2018 Finalists

Name Organisation
Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran RMIT University 
Professor Igor Aharonovich University of Technology Sydney
Professor Michael Milford Queensland University of Technology

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

© 2019 Australian Academy of Science