European Commission launches €1m prize for a diagnostic test to combat antibiotic resistance

May 7, 2015 in News

News Alert

European Commission launches €1m prize for a diagnostic test to combat antibiotic resistance

Brussels, 26 February 2015

A prize of €1 million will be awarded to the person or team that develops a rapid test to tell whether a patient needs to be treated with antibiotics or not, the European Commission announced today. The aim is to stop overuse of antibiotics and halt the growing resistance of micro-organisms to them that causes every year 25 000 deaths and over €1.5 billion in healthcare expenses and productivity losses in Europe alone.


With such a test, doctors will be able to quickly know whether patients with upper respiratory tract infections (such as the common cold, bronchitis and otitis) can be treated safely without antibiotics. Upper respiratory tract infections are a major reason for the prescription of antibiotics, even though many of these infections are due to viruses, where antibiotics are neither effective nor necessary.

The aim of the Horizon Prize for better use of antibiotics is to stop many patients from taking antibiotics needlessly, which is one of the main reasons for the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This is one of the five innovation prizes which will be launched in 2015 under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s research and innovation programme (IP/14/849).

European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said: “Growing resistance to antibiotics is one of the biggest challenges to public health today. We need to find new ways to prevent people from dying from infections that have been treatable for decades, until resistance rendered our drugs ineffective. We need to bring new classes of antibiotics to market and we need to take preventative measures to stop antibiotics being over-prescribed and over-used. Under Horizon 2020 we are continuing to help save lives and reduce the €1.5 billion in healthcare expenses and productivity losses the EU incurs each year from drug-resistant infections.”

The Horizon Prize for better use of antibiotics is a challenge prize (also known as “inducement” prize) – it offers a cash reward to whoever can most effectively meet a defined challenge with a breakthrough solution. It leaves applicants total freedom to come up with the most promising and effective solution, be it from an established scientist in the field or from an innovative newcomer. The award criteria just require the test to be cheap, rapid, easy-to-use for healthcare providers and non- or minimally invasive for patients.

The rules of contest are now available online. Contestants will be able to submit their entries from 10 March 2015 until 17 August 2016.


Antimicrobial agents – such as antibiotics – have dramatically reduced the number of deaths from infectious diseases since their introduction 70 years ago. However, through overuse and misuse, many micro-organisms have become resistant to them.

The Horizon Prize is a new kind of prize by the European Commission to stimulate innovation and come up with solutions to problems that matter to European citizens. In 2015, at least five Horizon Prizes worth €6 million will be launched in the areas of health, environment and ICT.

For more information