Prizes History

Dr H.P. Heineken and
Dr A.H. Heineken Prizes
C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize

Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics


The Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics has been awarded every two years since 1964 and is the most valuable Dutch prize for scientific research. Many leading scientists, including a number of future Nobel laureates (Christian de Duve, Sir Aaron Klug, Thomas R. Cech, Sir Paul M. Nurse, Roger Y. Tsien, Andrew Z. Fire and Jack W. Szostak) have been awarded the prize by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of their pioneering work.

Chemist Henry Pierre Heineken (1886-1971) managed the Heineken brewery for nearly 40 years. He was renowned for his patriarchal management style and acquired the sobriquet of the ‘red brewer’ because he set up a pension fund and did his best to minimise job losses during the depression of the 1930s.

Henry Pierre Heineken left the day-to-day management ofthe brewery to a board of management, the members of which he had carefully selected, enabling him to devote more time to his cultural interests, especially music. He was an accomplished pianist and served as chairman of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. A cosmopolitan figure, he spoke and wrote English, German and French fluently.

Alfred Heineken inherited his father’s feeling for languages, his cosmopolitan attitudes and his cultural interests. Thus it was very much an act of homage to his father when, in the early 1960s, Alfred established the Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics.
Since then, the Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics has been awarded to many eminent researchers.

Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art


Alfred Heineken loved the beautiful things in life. Art occupied a special place, with painting and sculpture holding a particular fascination for him. ‘He could really fall in love with a painting’, his daughter Charlene remembers.

Alfred Heineken had a ‘nose’ for art that often enabled him to identify new talent and see the merits of a work of art more quickly than many art connoisseurs. In the 1990s, he was the driving force behind the production of Fascinating Art, a documentary series on famous painters. He was also an accomplished photographer.

A preference for painting and sculpture did not narrow his vision. Thus the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art has been shared among a variety of artistic disciplines, including design, photography and video. Alfred Heineken wanted the prize to go to Dutch artists whose work merited extra attention – and for whom the prize would act as an incentive.

Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine

Different order

‘I’m probably a frustrated medical researcher. I would have liked to find a cure for cancer.’ Alfred Heineken’s admiration for scientific endeavour extended in particular to the field of medicine. So, it came as no surprise when he established the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine. The prize was first awarded on 9 May 1989.

Alfred Heineken felt that medical researchers in particular were not being given the recognition they deserved. Of his own work as an entrepreneur he said: ‘Brewing beer is fun, but the eradication of disease is of a different order.’

His fascination for the medical world was prompted partly by his interest in people in general. What drives us? To what extent do our genes determine our paths in life? Alfred Heineken was inspired by the constant flow of discoveries in this field and medicine never lost his interest. He regarded the prize for medicine as an accolade for scientists seeking to unravel the workings of the human body.

Winners of the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine that have gone on to win Nobel Prizes: Paul C. Lauterbur, Luc Montagnier, Barry J. Marshall, Eric R. Kandel, Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Ralph M. Steinman.

Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History


History occupied a special place in Alfred Heineken’s wide range of interests. He was astonished at the lack of knowledge among Europeans about their own history, and he intended the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History as an expression of his appreciation of researchers who were helping to change that state of affairs.

Alfred Heineken initially planned to use the prize foundation to support a history project for young people in Europe. His goal was a single history book for use in schools in every European country. ‘Without a common history, you can’t create a united Europe. Children aren’t taught history any more. It’s beyond me how you can read a book without a knowledge of history.’ His interest in European history led Alfred Heineken to use the prize as an extra incentive for research into the history of Europe. European history played an important role in Heineken’s idea of dividing Europe up into 75 small states. Working with two historians, he elaborated on the idea in a booklet entitled The United States of Europe
(A ‘Eurotopia’?). He was the first to acknowledge that there were all sorts of objections to the plan. ‘It’s not a blueprint of how things should be. I’m just sowing the idea.’

The prize originally recognised academic research into Euro­pean history. From 2006, the prize is universal and applies to research into the history of any part of the world.

Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences


The 1980s brought worldwide acceptance of environmental science as a fully-fledged scientific discipline, whose pioneers deserve recognition. The Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences has been awarded since 1990.

With the growing realisation that there could be a worldwide shortage of clean drinking water, Heineken N.V. took measures to radically reduce the use of water in its breweries. Alfred Heineken was a keen advocate of these measures.

Alfred Heineken was also in­trig­ued by the problem of the hole in the ozone layer, and more particularly its possible implica­tions for the climate and the health dangers of ultraviolet radiation. The issue concerned him to such an extent that personally commissioned a scientist to conduct further research. He also made donat­ions to a group of scientists working on a solution to the danger posed by chemical weapons dumped in the Baltic Sea and the Skagerrak.

C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science

(former Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science)


Cognitive science, insight into the workings of the human mind, is still a young field of research. But a wealth of experience has been built up over the past half century on our ability to think, talk, learn, decide and perceive. This new field has matured and has been recognised in the C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science
(in 2006 instituted  as the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science; from 2014, known as the C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science).

Although this prize has been inaugurated four years after his death, the Alfred Heineken Fondsen Foundation is sure that Alfred Heineken would regard the C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science as an important new award. The man who spent his whole life improving his mind and wanting to continue learning and developing, would without doubt have applauded this development.

His daughter Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken said: ‘My father was fascinated by the workings of the human brain.
It will be entirely within the spirit of the idea behind all the Heineken Prizes if we can contribute to scientific research in this field with this prize.’

Heineken Young Scientists Awards

Since 2010, the Heineken Young Scientists Awards are presented every other year to five scientists whose outstanding scientific or scholarly work sets an example for other young researchers. Eligible researchers work for a Dutch research organisation and received their doctoral degrees no more than five years previously.

The winners of the Heineken Young Scientists Awards are active in the same fields of science and scholarship as the laureates of the Heineken Prizes.

These prizes are intended to give talent extra encourage­ment. ‘Science and scholarship depend on young researchers who jump in at the deep end and some­times make the biggest discov­er­ies’, said Robbert Dijkgraaf, former President of the Royal Nether­lands Academy of Arts and Sciences. ‘The idea of rewarding young researchers is completely in line with the vision and aims of the Foundation’, says Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, chairman of the Alfred Heineken Fondsen Foundation, which makes the awards pos­sible. ‘The awards empha-sise the relevance of research to society and represent an impor­t­ant addition to the Heineken Prizes, which are among the most prestigious science awards in the world.’