25th German Future Award goes to BioNTech researchers

The winners of BioNTech SE at the 25th Deutscher Zukunftspreis. © Deutscher Zukunftspreis Bildschoen TMA

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier awarded the 25th German Future Award to researchers from Mainz-based BioNTech Uğur Şahin, Özlem Türeci, Christoph Huber and Katalin Karikó for their development of an mRNA vaccine against the coronavirus on November 17, 2021 in Berlin. The prize, worth 250,000 euros, is awarded each year by the German president to a German research team for outstanding technology and innovation.

Every year, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier honors outstanding research and development projects with the German Future Award. The jury's decision is based on the degree of scientific and technical innovation and the potential to translate this achievement into sustainable jobs. The prize is endowed with 250,000 euros.

The founding team of BioNTech SE, Prof. Dr. med. Uğur Şahin, Chairman of the Executive Board, PD Dr. med. Özlem Türeci, Chief Medical Officer, Prof. Dr. med. Christoph Huber, Scientific Advisor and member of the Supervisory Board of the biotechnology company, and Dr. Katalin Karikó, Senior Vice President, developed an mRNA vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and were able to bring it to market as the first vaccine to be approved. This was based on their many years of research on mRNA and the realization that the coronavirus would spread exponentially.
At the same time, the company, which is headquartered in Mainz and has sites in Neuried (BioNTech SE) and Martinsried (BioNTech Small Molecules GmbH), among others, planned and built up production facilities and delivery capacities worldwide. As a result, millions of people have already been offered vaccinations in a very short time, and the supply situation in Africa, for example, will continue to improve.
The successful use of mRNA technology also enables further developments, for example against cancer, autoimmune diseases and in regenerative medicine.

Further nominees

Also nominated for the 25th German Future Award  were: Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Flohr, Dr. rer. nat. Björn Kreisler and Dr. rer. biol. hum. Stefan Ulzheimer, Siemens Healthineers AG, Forchheim, with their "Quantum counting computer tomograph - revolutionary insights into the human body" as well as Dr. rer. nat. Carla Recker, Continental AG, Hanover, Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dirk Prüfer, Westphalian Wilhelms University Münster and Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, Münster, and Dr. rer. nat. Christian Schulze Gronover, Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, Münster, with "Sustainable tires through dandelions - innovations from biology, technology and agriculture."

They were honored by the German President with a certificate and included by the jury in the "Circle of the Best" of the Deutscher Zukunftspreis.