Award and certification schemes implemented in different countries, in the EU and beyond, have been shown to be useful tools for advancing gender equality in academic, research and innovation organisations, with some awarding schemes effectively being used as drivers for competition in attracting students and researchers and/or as prerequisite for having access to funding. Building on the feasibility study for a European award/certification system for gender equality in research organisations, including universities, carried out by Horizon 2020 project CASPER, an annual Award scheme is established. The “EU Award for Gender Equality Champions” is meant as a booster and complement to the requirement for higher education and research organisations applying to Horizon Europe to have in place a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) in place, and as an enabler for the new priority on inclusive gender equality plans and the transformation agenda for universities set in the new European Research Area, in synergy with the European Education Area and in line with the new European Strategy for Universities.
The Prize will be awarded to up to four academic or research organisations, and contestants can apply to one among the following three prize categories:
Each prize winner will receive EUR 0.1 million: EUR 0.4 million maximum in total, from the 2022 budget.
The contestants will have to provide proof of eligibility and a written presentation of their achievements, as well as support their applications with a link to a video. The submission consists of a complete application.
Essential award criteria:
Eligible applications will be evaluated by a Jury consisting of a group of independent experts, with expertise on gender equality plan implementation and intersectional approaches in research and higher education institutions, appointed by the Commission.
The prize will be awarded, after closure of the contest, to the contestants who in the opinion of the jury best address a set of cumulative criteria set for each of the three prize categories.
The contestant must be a university, higher education institution, or research performing organisation (public or private) located in an EU Member State or a country associated to Horizon Europe.
Applicants that have already received an EU or Euratom prize cannot receive a second prize for the same activities.
The specific rules of the contest will be published each year by the European Commission (on the Funding & Tenders Portal but also actively publicised elsewhere to maximise participation), which will directly launch and manage the contest and award the prize based on the judgement of independent experts.
Expected results: The prizes will boost public awareness of the importance of addressing gender equality in academic and research organisations through institutional change, incentivise a high degree of commitment to the implementation of inclusive GEPs, and create a community of champions inspiring other academic and research organisations into become gender equality champions themselves.
 In accordance with the Horizon Europe Rules for participation, due to the specific policy requirements, to the nature and objectives of the action, the type of legal entity and the place of establishment are limited to research performing organisations among legal entities falling under the eligibility criterion on the requirement to have a Gender Equality Plan in place (see General Annexes to the Horizon Europe Work Programme)