The GBIF Secretariat currently presents two annual prizes: the GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge and the Young Researchers Award.

The GBIF Secretariat currently presents two annual prizes: the GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge (described below) and the Young Researchers Award.

Ebbe Nielsen Challenge

The call for submissions to the 2018 GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge closed on 5 Sept 2018. Winners will be announced at GB25 in Kilkenny, Ireland, on 17 October 2018.

The GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge is an annual incentive prize that seeks to inspire innovative applications of open-access biodiversity data by scientists, informaticians, data modelers, cartographers and other experts. Like the Ebbe Nielsen Prize it replaced, the Challenge honours the memory of Dr Ebbe Schmidt Nielsen, an inspirational leader in the fields of biosystematics and biodiversity informatics and one of the principal founders of GBIF, who tragically died just before it came into being.

While the focus of the competition changes from year to year, Challenge entries manifest a variety of forms and approaches—new analytical research, richer policy-relevant visualizations, web and mobile applications, or improvements to processes around data digitization, quality and access.

2016 Ebbe Nielsen Challenge

How well do data about life on earth—and specifically, biodiversity data mobilized through GBIF—allow us to understand how the world works? The answer can be different based on the research question.

In 2016, the GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge focused on the question of data gaps and completeness, seeking tools, methods or mechanisms to help both data users and data holders — whether by analysing the fitness-for-use of GBIF-mediated data or by guiding and prioritizing significant temporal, spatial or other use-specific gaps for mobilization and digitization.


1st Prize

2nd Prize

  • sampbias: Alexander Zizka, Alexandre Antonelli and Daniele Silvestro
  • GBIF Coverage Assessment Tools: Walter Jetz, Jeremy Malczyk, Ajay Ranipeta, Luis J. Villanueva, Carsten Meyer and Michelle Duong

Honourable Mention

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2015 Ebbe Nielsen Challenge

The opening round of the first Challenge sparked the creation of 24 innovative entries from individuals, teams and organizations. An expert jury selected six finalists who competed for two prizes—€20,000 for first place, €5,000 for second place.


1st Prize

2nd Prize


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Ebbe Nielsen Prize

Prior to its 2014 reboot, GBIF awarded the Ebbe Nielsen Prize to recognize an individual who demonstrated excellence in combining biodiversity informatics and biosystematics research.

Past Prize winners

2014: Tony Rees (Australia) | video
2013: Miguel Bastos Araújo (Portugal) | video
2012: Nathan Swenson (United States)
2011: Jens-Christian Svenning (Denmark)
2010: Sujeevan Ratnasingham (Canada)
2009: Andy Jarvis (Colombia)
2008: Vince Stuart Smith (United Kingdom)
2007: Paul Flemons (Australia)
2006: John Wieczorek (United States)
2005: Pablo Goloboff (Argentina)
2004: Johan Nilsson (Sweden)
2003: Stefan Schröder (Germany)
2002: Nozomi Ytow (Japan)