Isala: Citizen-science map of the vaginal microbiome

Photo: Isala Team

2023 Winners

In 2023, the European Union awarded prizes for the first time to outstanding citizen science projects that promote collaborative, sustainable and fair shaping of the future. Ars Electronica in Linz was commissioned to organize the new competition, which carries a prize money of 100,000 euros. Congratulations to the prize winners!

Isala self-sampling kit from the longitudinal flow (sampling vagina, skin and saliva over 2 menstrual cycles), from the citizen science initiative Isala: Citizen-science map of the vaginal microbiome, 2023 Grand Prize Winner of the European Union Prize for Citizen Science.

Grand Prize: € 60.000

Isala: Citizen-science map of the vaginal microbiome

Sarah Lebeer (BE), Sarah Ahannach (BE), Thies Gehrmann (BE), Stijn Wittouck (BE), Tom Eilers (BE), Sandra Condori (BE), Jelle Dillen (BE), Irina Spacova (BE), Leonore Vander Donck (BE), Caroline Masquillier (BE), Camille Allonsius (BE), Isabel Erreygers (BE), Inas Rahou (BE), Caroline Dricot (BE), Charlotte De Backer (BE), Gilbert Donders (BE), Veronique Verhoeven (BE) 

In many areas of medical research, women’s health still receives too little attention; a grievance that sparked the “Isala” initiative in March 2020. A transdisciplinary team from Belgium set out to scientifically investigate the microbiome – bacteria, viruses and fungi – of the vaginal tract in order to be able to identify clinical pictures at an early stage and initiate appropriate therapeutic measures.

Jury statement: “This project successfully addresses social stigma and medical bias concerning intimacy, self-care and taboos related to the female body. […] Isala is an outstanding example of a well-implemented citizen-science project.

Diversity & Collaboration Award: € 20.000

Urban Belonging Project 

Urban Belonging Collective (INT): Sofie Burgos-Thorsen (DK), Drude Emilie Ehn (DK), Anders Koed Madsen (DK), Thorben Simonsen (DK), Sabine Niederer (NL), Maarten Groen (NL), Carlo De Gaetano (IT), Kathrine Norsk (DK), Federico Di Fresco (AR), Gehl Architects (DK), Techno-Anthropology Lab – Aalborg University (DK), Service Design Lab – Aalborg University (DK), Visual Methodologies Collective – Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (NL), Center for Digital Welfare – IT University Copenhagen (DK). 

One city, many perspectives: The Urban Belonging Project explores Copenhagen’s urban life – more specifically, the urban experience of underrepresented groups. People from the LGBT* community, homeless people, internationals, ethnic minorities, people with physical disabilities, deaf people and people with mental illness were asked to document and visualize their experiences (“Experiences of Belonging”) in the Danish capital.

Digital Communities Award: € 20.000

The Restart Project: The Right to Repair and Reuse your electronics 

Frances Cresswell (GB), Holly Davies (GB), Fiona Dear (GB), Mario De Marco (IT/GB), Cristina Ganapini (IT/BE), Shelini Kotecha (GB), Neil Mather (GB), James Pickstone (GB/BE), Ugo Vallauri (IT)

The Restart Project is a London-based initiative that criticizes the environmentally harmful orientation of contemporary consumer society – and offers practical solutions. Specifically, it is concerned with the vast amount of e-waste in Europe; electronic products that are hastily disposed of because of the smallest defects, even though they could sometimes be repaired easily and quickly.

Honorary Mentions



    #SOPHYGRAY from German artist Nadja Verena Marcin, is a feminist audio bot that responds to questions from the community with philosophical and humorous answers informed by intersectional feminist theory.

  • AquaGranda: A Digital Community Memory

    AquaGranda: A Digital Community Memory

    AquaGranda brought Venetian citizens together to build a digital community memory of recent floods and question how we can cope with the devastating effects of climate change to build a new future.

  • ARTigo: Social Image Tagging

    ARTigo: Social Image Tagging

    ARTigo: Social Image Tagging from German researcher Stefanie Schneider democratizes the traditionally elitist field of art history by harnessing the collective intelligence of participants.

  • Catch the Water Monsters

    Catch the Water Monsters

    Catch the Water Monsters from the Netherlands trains and educates citizens to measure the quality of small water bodies in their environment.

  • CitieS-Health: Citizen Science for Urban Environment and Health

    CitieS-Health: Citizen Science for Urban Environment and Health

    CitieS-Health is a European project that actively engages communities in cities with research on public health and the urban environment.

  • CurieuzeNeuzen


    CurieuzeNeuzen from Belgium showcases how citizen science can directly contribute to societal challenges and informed policy decisions about air quality, mobility, spatial planning and climate change.

  • Dark Sky Meter

    Dark Sky Meter

    Dark Sky Meter from Norbert Schmidt in the Netherlands, is an innovative app and digital community that allows citizens to measure light pollution in their local areas.

  • Digi-ID PLUS

    Digi-ID PLUS

    Digi-ID PLUS led by Esther Murphy from Trinity College Dublin, is a transdisciplinary project co-designing accessible digital skills training with and for citizens with disabilities.

  • Digital Violence: How the NSO Group Enables State Terror

    Digital Violence: How the NSO Group Enables State Terror

    Digital Violence from Forensic Architecture in the UK is an initiative that maps the use of the malware Pegasus against activists, journalists and human rights defenders across the world.



    DRYRivERS is a European project and citizen science app that advances the science and management of intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams.

  • European Bird Census Council

    European Bird Census Council

    European Bird Census Council is a community of citizen scientists undertaking projects to monitor birds for policy, research and society in Europe.

  • Europeana Transcribe on

    Europeana Transcribe on

    Europeana Transcribe on is an online citizen science initiative for the transcription and enrichment of digitised historical materials from European cultural heritage.

  • EVE Online’s Project Discovery

    EVE Online’s Project Discovery

    EVE Online’s Project Discovery is an international collaboration that pioneers the implementation of the Massively Multiplayer Online Science concept integrating citizen science with video games.



    GEOVACUI-2 from Spain investigated with communities depopulation in rural areas, opening debate that allows deeper understanding, in a collaborative way.

  • HARNESSTOM Citizen Science Platform

    HARNESSTOM Citizen Science Platform

    HARNESSTOM Citizen Science Platform from a consortium of partners across Europe works with communities to unlock tomato genetic resources to benefit farmers, citizens and chefs.

  • Mosquito Alert

    Mosquito Alert

    Mosquito Alert is a global initiative based in Spain that advances the knowledge of mosquitoes as disease vectors through innovative citizen science methodologies.

  • Ocean Routes

    Ocean Routes

    Ocean Routes from Portugal explores the maritime culture of Esposende through an ocean literacy and citizen science approach,

  • Paleo-energy: How forgotten patents can shake the future

    Paleo-energy: How forgotten patents can shake the future

    Paleo-energy: How forgotten patents can shake the future from France focuses on exploring alternative energy sources inspired by Technical Heritage.

  • Phénoclim


    Phénoclim from Anne Delestrade in France is a participatory science programme on phenology and climatology in mountain areas.

  • Project Roadkill

    Project Roadkill

    Project Roadkill from Florian Heigl and Daniel Dörler in Austria, works with citizens to create an overview of where animals are killed on the roads and investigate what could be the cause.

  • Projecte Rius

    Projecte Rius

    Projecte Rius from Associació Hàbitats in Spain, is a long-term ecological quality monitoring project focused on freshwater ecosystems in Catalonia.

  • SensJus: Sensing for Justice

    SensJus: Sensing for Justice

    SensJus is an intiative led by Anna Berti Suman in Italy that explores how civic environmental monitoring can turn people into ‘sentinels’ for their environment.

  • Surfing for Science

    Surfing for Science

    Surfing for Science from Spain brings communities of surfers together to collect scientific samples of microplastics floating in the sea surface.

  • Surfside Science 

    Surfside Science 

    Surfside Science created replicable methods to monitor coastal and marine ecosystems, focusing on Surfside Bay in Aruba.

  • Whale Track

    Whale Track

    Whale Track from Scotland is an initiative for nature restoration that provides quick and easy ways for communites to record and submit sightings of marine mammals.

  • When gig workers regain control

    When gig workers regain control

    When gig workers regain control is a French initiative investigating the working conditions of gig workers in Paris that aims to build a new data governance model for innovation.

  • YouCount


    YouCount is a European project that brings together young people and relevant stakeholders to co-create new knowledge and innovations to address complex societal challenges.

The Jury

Credit: Florian Voggeneder

From left to right: Pedro Russo, Kat Austen, Lewis Hou, Stefanie Wuschitz, Andrea Sforzi.