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

The call for applications are currently closed

The call for applications for the ASPIRE Prize 2020 is now open.


The ASPIRE Prize is an annual award, valued at US$25,000 (approximately A$36,000 – $37,000), 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 2020 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 2020, Malaysia selects ‘Biodiversity for a Prosperous Economy’ as the ASPIRE nominating theme.

Biodiversity is foundational for human health as it underpins the functioning of our ecosystems and its study crosses many scientific disciplines. This theme focuses on scientists’ contributions to biodiversity for prosperous economies across the APEC region by driving research that contributes to local livelihoods, traditional and modern medicines, and economic development.

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 2020) to be considered for the 2020 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 which will be presented at an award ceremony during the 16th APEC PPSTI meeting in Malaysia tentatively scheduled for August 2020.

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 ‘Biodiversity for a Prosperous Economy’.

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 2020
  • 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
  • 500 Internal Server Error

    Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error and was unable to complete your request. Either the server is overloaded or there is an error in the application.

Terms of prize

Australia may nominate one young scientist from Australia under the age of 40 to be considered for the 2020 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 2020 ASPIRE Prize winner, with prize money in the amount of US$25,000 (equivalent to A$36,000 – $37,000).


Applications are to be submitted online and must include the following attachments as pdf files:

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

DEADLINE – 11:59pm (AEST) Friday 15 May 2020

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.

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.

500 Internal Server Error

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error and was unable to complete your request. Either the server is overloaded or there is an error in the application.

Notification of outcome: early June 2020

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.

Previous finalists

Click here to find out about the past Australian finalists.

© 2020 Australian Academy of Science