The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering was launched today, with leaders from all the main political parties in attendance to praise the new award.
The £1 million prize will be awarded every two years in the name of Her Majesty the Queen. It will go to an individual or team of up to three people, of any nationality, directly responsible for advancing the application of engineering knowledge. The prize will provide an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate how engineers and engineering are making a real difference across the world.
The Prime Minister David Cameron spoke at the launch, saying, “I am delighted that the Queen has put her name to this prestigious prize, which I hope will carry the same stature as the Nobel Prizes.”
“For too long Britain’s economy has been over-reliant on consumer debt and financial services,” he said. “We want to rebalance the economy so that Britain makes things again – high skilled high value manufacturing and engineering should be a central part of our long term future. I hope this prize will go some way to inspire and excite young people about engineering, so that they dream of becoming engineers as they once did in the age of Stephenson and Brunel.”
A number of major engineering companies have donated to an endowment fund, which is being managed by an independent charitable trust, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, chaired by Lord Browne.
Lord Browne said: “Too often the engineers behind the most brilliant innovations remain hidden. The Queen Elizabeth Prize aims to change that. It will celebrate, on an international scale, the very best engineering in the world. I believe that this prize will inspire the public, especially young people, with a sense of the excitement and the importance of engineering.”
Some of Britain’s biggest manufacturers have contributed to the endowment fund, including BAE Systems, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Jaguar Land Rover, Shell, Siemens, Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Steel.
Leader of the Labour party, Ed Miliband, said: “We now face huge global challenges in the future that range from climate change and famine to an ageing population in the West. Just as engineering has helped us meet the big challenges in the past, it will be engineering that helps us meet these new challenges.”
Aaron Porter, director of Talent 2030, a new national campaign to promote engineering and manufacturing, commented: “This new prize can play a significant role in encouraging young people to aspire to help solve the future challenges that face us in energy, health and security.”