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

The call for applications is currently closed


The ASPIRE Prize is an annual award, valued at US$25,000 (approximately A$32,000 – $35,000), 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 2021 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 2021, New Zealand has selected ‘Diverse Knowledge for a Sustainable Future’ as the ASPIRE nominating theme.

APEC economies operate in a rapidly changing era of uncertainties, and economic shocks have been laid bare by socio-environmental vulnerability and COVID-19.  These global issues have heightened awareness of the need to capture a diversity of knowledge, offering opportunities to reorient policy solutions towards new conceptions of collective good. 

The theme focuses on researcher insights from indigenous and ethnic minority cultures and communities to help inform new frontiers in science, technology and innovation. This may include research that explores interactions between traditional and contemporary approaches to knowledge and science, as well as applications such as better management of natural resources, healthcare and agricultural systems. 

Nominees should demonstrate a commitment to excellence in scientific research, and cooperation with scientists from other APEC member economies in subjects such as: biology, chemistry, environmental science, physics, mathematics and other relevant fields.

Each member economy, through its representative on the APEC Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI), is invited to nominate one young scientist under the age of 40 (at 31 December 2021) to be considered for the 2021 ASPIRE Prize.

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.  The winner of the 2021 ASPIRE Prize will be recognised at a virtual award ceremony during the 17th APEC PPSTI meeting, hosted by New Zealand.

Selection criteria

Applications will be assessed on the following APEC criteria:

  • Excellence in scientific research, as evidenced through scholarly publication.
  • Commitment to cooperation with scientists from other APEC member economies.
  • Contribution to the theme of ‘Diverse Knowledge for a Sustainable Future’.

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.


Please note that applications submitted to APEC directly will be sent to the Academy for review.

The applicant must:

  • be under the age of 40 at 31 December 2021
  • be from an eligible research institute (as defined below)
  • be an Australian citizen, or an Australian permanent resident who is a citizen of an APEC member economy and is living in Australia at the time of submitting the application.

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.

Terms of prize

Australia may nominate one young scientist from Australia under the age of 40 to be considered for the 2021 ASPIRE Prize.

The top three Australian ranked applicants from this competition will receive a prize of A$2000 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 on Science, Technology and Innovation working group for selection as the 2021 ASPIRE Prize winner, with prize money in the amount of US$25,000 (equivalent to A$32,000 – $35,000).


Applications are to be submitted online by a research office or grants office, and must include the following attachments as pdf files:

  • APEC nomination form
  • Proof of Australian citizenship/Australian permanent residency
  • Candidate’s curriculum vitae
  • Letter of support for nomination. Notes for referees
  • Photo of nominee (image must be larger than 250x300 pixels)

Selection process

The Academy will provide a shortlist of the six highest ranked applicants to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, who will select the Australian nominee and finalists. The selection of the successful applicants 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 on the assessed competitiveness of the proposal. Neither the Academy nor the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources is able to enter into discussion or correspondence regarding the reasons why an application is or isn’t successful.

Past Australian finalists

Click here to find out about the past Australian finalists.

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science