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Awards for Enterprise


An Inspired Future

Rolex Awards For Enterprise

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise support innovative thinkers who are reshaping the future with their vision, courage and ground-breaking projects. They were launched in 1976 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Oyster chronometer, the world’s first waterproof watch. The Rolex Awards differ from many other prizes in that they fund working projects focused on the future, as distinct from past achievements.

In 2016, five Laureates and five Young Laureates received prizes after demonstrating that they have the passion, determination and, most of all, the spirit of enterprise to make the world a better place. Winners include a polar scientist, a robotic suit designer and an eye specialist who wants to save millions of people from going blind.

Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Rolex Awards for Enterprise


Vreni Häussermann

Patagonia’s wild depths

Vreni Häusserman, Rolex Awards Laureate, 2016

Vreni Häussermann is exploring Chilean Patagonia’s remote fjords to document unknown life at the bottom of the sea. Combining science and public outreach, her goal is to create public support for the conservation of this uniquely biodiverse area.

Andrew Bastawrous

Vision for Africa

Andrew Bastawrous, Rolex Awards Laureate, 2016

Most of the world’s 285 million visually impaired people live in countries where it is difficult to get treatment.
Andrew Bastawrous is a British ophthalmologist whose smartphone-based eye examination system, Peek Vision, is radically changing eye care in sub-Saharan Africa.

Kerstin Forsberg

Saving the ocean’s gentle giants

Kerstin Forsberg, Rolex Awards Laureate, 2016

Kerstin Forsberg is protecting threatened giant manta rays by working with local communities to promote awareness and appreciation of these gentle giants and to assist fishermen find alternative income through ecotourism.

Conor Walsh

Walking with robots

Conor Walsh, Rolex Awards Laureate, 2016

By marrying textile science with robotics, Irish biomedical engineer Conor Walsh and a team of experts at the Harvard Biodesign Lab are revolutionizing how patients worldwide recover from traumas such as stroke and learn to walk again.

Sonam Wangchuk

Ice towers in the desert

Sonam Wangchuk, Rolex Awards Laureate, 2016

Sonam Wangchuk is helping farmers in the arid trans-Himalayan highlands of Ladakh in India to overcome water shortages in the spring growing season by tapping meltwaters to build artificial glaciers, known as ice stupas.

Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Young Laureates

Oscar Ekponimo

Software that feeds the poor

Oscar Ekponimo, Rolex Young Laureate, 2016

Going hungry is a daily reality for an estimated 13 million Nigerians but Oscar Ekponimo is aiming to alleviate their suffering through an application that generates notifications on food at the end of shelf life, allowing it to be sold at a discount and reducing waste.

Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Joseph Cook

The frozen rainforest

Glacial microbiologist Joseph Cook likens the top few metres of the Arctic’s ice to a “frozen rainforest”. His research is a journey of discovery that reveals how ice micro-organisms on the Greenland ice sheet shape our world.

Joseph Cook, Rolex Young Laureate, 2016
Junto Ohki

Junto Ohki

A world of signs

Junto Ohki, Rolex Young Laureate, 2016

Japanese entrepreneur Junto Ohki is improving communication among deaf people by expanding a crowdsourced, online sign-language database dictionary that will become a global platform for the 126 distinct sign languages.

Sarah Toumi

Holding back the Sahara

Sarah Toumi, Rolex Young Laureate, 2016

Sarah Toumi has shifted to Tunisia, her father’s homeland, to fight desertification caused by climate change and reduce poverty among farmers through reforestation using acacia trees and crops more suited to a lower rainfall.

Christine Keung

Agents of change

Christine Keung, Rolex Young Laureate, 2016

Christine Keung, who immigrated to the United States when she was four, is intent on using her education as a force for good by empowering women to tackle rural pollution in Northwest China with a system for disposing of toxic waste.

Rolex Awards for Enterprise