Family of Neil Lawrence appeals for sponsors to save future of his medical creative award

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.32.37 PMThe family of the late Neil Lawrence have appealed for sponsors to come forward in a bid to keep a creative award named in his honour from being lost.

The STW creative director, who tragically died on a surfing holiday in July, was a long term supporter of medical research organisation The Centenary Institute, and served as chairman from 2008 to 2012.

He also sat on the Board of Governors, was instrumental in launching its annual dinner in 2009 and oversaw the strategic re-branding of the Institute.

In recognition of his support, an annual prize for Australia’s most innovative young scientists was developed in 2012, known as the Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize (CILCP).

While the $37,000 prize money for this year’s award has been found – with Lawrence’s friends and colleagues donating the final $10,000 – his daughter Anna fears raising similar amounts each year will be too much of an ask of the advertising and creative community.

Along with the The Centenary Institute, she has appealed for a long term sponsor to lend their support and ensure the award lives on.

Anna Lawrence

Anna Lawrence

“We can’t do the same next year and ask people who have kindly contributed this year to donate again,” Anna told Mumbrella. “So we are appealing for sponsors to come forward and help secure the future of the award.”

Anna said they were prepared to hand over naming rights to a sponsor, even if that meant sacrificing the Lawrence Creative Award title.

“We just dearly want his legacy to live on through this award,” she said, adding that she and her family had been “overwhelmed” with the messages of support and tributes paid to her father.

Along with the donations, Val Morgan, The Sun Foundation and UBS have come on board as sponsors for this years’ award which will be presented at a dinner on September 10.

The Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize (CILCP) recognises Australia’s young researchers who, according to the Centenary Institute website, “are taking the risks to ask the big and challenging questions of today – those questions that have most people saying ‘but that’s impossible.”

The award “inspires and advances Australia’s most promising and talented scientists and is perceived as one of the premier awards for scientific recognition”.

The winner receives a glass trophy, along with a $25,000 cash prize with the runner-up and 3rd prize winners each receiving $5,000 to continue their research.

The Centenary Institute executive director, Professor Mathew Vadas AO, said the prize was developed in “recognition of Neil Lawrence’s invaluable contribution to the Centenary Institute over the years, as a long-serving supporter, Board Member and Chair of the Centenary Institute Foundation”.

“It will continue to act as a lasting legacy of Neil’s progressive thinking and flare for creativity,” he said.

Coined the “Archibald Prize of the young science world”, the Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize rewards Australia’s best and brightest young scientists for asking the bold questions that others would not think possible – the very essence of Neil Lawrence.

“It is vitally important that we support young innovative scientists to ensure Australia remains a world leader biomedical research. 80 per cent of the biggest scientific discoveries for humanity have come from researchers younger than 45 years of age.”

Calling for more entries for this year’s award, Vadas added: “This is a great opportunity for young scientists right across the country to showcase their research to some of the world’s leading scientists, as well as the broader Australian community.”

Separately, STW, which has also supported the CILCP since its inception, said the company is set to recognise their creative director internally.

“We are likely to have an internal award/scholarship in Neil’s name as part of our own internal awards at the end of the year,” a spokeswoman said.

Steve Jones


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