Applications for the 2020 MacRobert Award are now open

Posted on 16/10/2019 by IED

The MacRobert Award, now celebrating its 50th year, is the UK's longest-running and most prestigious national prize for engineering innovation.

It honours the winning organisation with a gold medal, and the team members a cash prize of £50,000. The presentation of the Award recognises outstanding innovation, tangible societal benefit and proven commercial success.

Past winners have included the engineers behind innovations such as the Pegasus jet engine, catalytic converters, the roof of the Millennium Dome and intelligent prosthetic limbs. In 2017 the Award was won by the team behind the Raspberry Pi microcomputer.

Originally founded by the MacRobert Trust, the Award is now presented and run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, with support from the Worshipful Company of Engineers.

Timeline for the 2020 MacRobert Award

The shortlisting stage

Following the closing date for submissions, the Judging Panel reviews all the entries and selects a shortlist of six to eight candidates. The Panel does not normally comment on submissions that are not shortlisted. However, if the primary reason for not selecting a submission is that it is too early to judge the commercial success of the project, applicants will be informed of this and invited to resubmit the project in a subsequent year. The results of the shortlisting process, successful or otherwise, remain confidential.

For those submissions that are shortlisted, the Panel may request additional information on particular aspects of the project. They may request that this information be provided in writing or at the subsequent site visit.

Two members of the Judging Panel will visit each of the shortlisted organisations. Where possible, one member will be chosen for their expertise in the field, the other will often be an expert in an unrelated field. Site visits to the shortlisted applicants will take place between Monday 9 March and Friday 27 March 2020.

The person named as the organisation’s contact should be available to help organise the visit and should ensure that the individual nominees will be available for the visit.

More details of the objectives and requirements of the site visit will be provided to the shortlisted organisations.

The final stage

Following the site visit, the case for each shortlisted entry will be made to the full Panel by the two judges who visited that organisation. As a result of this process, three finalists are then chosen. The Panel does not normally comment on submissions that are not chosen as finalists. However, if the panel felt that a particular submission would have been considerably strengthened by further commercial success, the applicant will be informed of this and invited to resubmit the project in a subsequent year.

The whole Judging Panel then visits all the finalists in turn. Again, the person named as the organisation’s contact should be available to help organise the visit and should ensure that the individual nominees and the head of the organisation will be available for the visit. These visits will take place between Friday 24 April and Friday 1 May 2020.

When all the finalists have been visited, the judges meet to decide the winner.

Awards dinners

The announcement of the winner of the MacRobert Award 2020 will be made at the Royal Academy of Engineering Annual Awards Dinner on Monday 6 July 2020 in London. Finalists will be expected to attend and will join a mix of representatives from government, heads of industry and the media.

The winning team will also be invited to attend The Worshipful Company of Engineers Awards Dinner in London in September 2020.

How to Apply - Guidance notes for submissions for the MacRobert Award

1. Contact information

This is the person the MacRobert Award team can liaise with over such matters as site visits, publicity and so on. The person need not necessarily be a member of the team.

Although the ultimate ownership of the organisation is not relevant, the organisation named on this form must be registered in the UK.

2. Submission details

Please provide the name of the project or innovation being submitted / title of submission using no more than 10 words.

Applications will be considered for engineering innovations in any area of engineering, applied science, technology or medicine.

In the case of larger projects, it is specifically the innovatory component that should be identified. This should have a substantial UK content.

Since the primary criteria for the Award is innovation, care should be taken to differentiate between the content of this project and any background or prior work or any larger accomplishment of which this is a part.

There is no need to provide any additional background material at this stage; however, please provide web links to any pages, videos or multimedia presentations that may be helpful to describe the innovation. Please note that, should the submission progress to the shortlist stage, additional information may then be requested.

In considering applications for the MacRobert Award, the Judging Panel uses the following criteria:

  • Innovation (no more than a 500 word summary on the submission form)
  • Commercial success (no more than a 250 word summary on the submission form)
  • Benefit to society (no more than a 250 word summary on the submission form)
  • All three criteria may be interpreted broadly to reflect the very diverse nature of engineering and its role in every aspect of society. The following notes may help to align the submission with these criteria.


The most important task is to define as clearly as possible the specific innovation being claimed, identifying the benefits of the innovation to end users as well as its advantages over competitive solutions. The Judging Panel should not be asked to simply review a successful engineering/commercial development.

Among points that may be considered for inclusion in the submission are: How does the submission differ from previous solutions that have addressed the particular application involved? What are the particular technical or commercial advantages of the new approach? (These might include creating a new market, improved performance, design for economic manufacture, improved reliability, ease of maintenance etc). Have patents, or any other external recognition, been granted for the innovative components of the project?

If other companies, universities, suppliers or partners have been involved in the project, explain how their role relates to the claimed innovation.

Commercial success

Evidence of commercial success should be provided. This should include numeric information on, for example, sales and/or installations, market penetration or customer usage. An indication should be given as to how the success is likely to be maintained.

The Judging Panel recognise that, for some organisations and submissions, commercial success may not be measurable in strictly financial terms. In these cases, the panel will wish to see evidence that the users at whom the innovation is aimed have fully embraced it within their applications and/or businesses. They will also expect to see that the scale of the success is commensurate with the scale of the innovation and the applications at which it is aimed.

Please note that commercial success is not measured by how much money has been spent on, or invested in, the project.

Benefit to society

Benefit to society can arise in a number of different ways, according to the specifics of the innovation and the context within which it is deployed. Examples include – but are not limited to – health and safety, national security, environmental improvement, employment, exports, spin-off activity and so on.

3. Team members

A maximum of five individuals may be nominated, all of whom should have played a significant part in the engineering innovation. It is not a requirement that the individuals be chartered engineers.

It is not a requirement that the individuals be still employed by the organisation. However, should the submission progress to the shortlist stage, the individuals will be expected to make themselves available for the Judging Panel. Please ensure that those named are prepared to be questioned on the breadth and depth of the innovation submitted.

It is acceptable for the named team members to be from more than one organisation, if there has been cross-organisational collaboration on the main components of the innovation.

The nationality of the individuals carrying out the work is not relevant.

The £50,000 prize money is awarded to the individual team members, not the company.

The Academy is committed to diversity and welcomes applications from women and other groups who are currently under-represented across engineering.

4. Confidentiality

The Academy’s web site is secure. Your submission will not be visible to others.

All material submitted for the Award is treated as confidential and will not be disclosed to anybody beyond the Judging Panel and the secretariat involved in the evaluation process. Eventual disposal of any submission will be carried out with due regard for the confidential nature of the contents.

The fact that the organisation has made a submission for the Award is not publicly disclosed until the submission becomes a finalist.

Applications close 31 January 2020.

Please submit your nominations via the online nomination system

For further information please visit

Please direct any queries with respect to your nomination to or telephone 020 7766 0607.


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