The Prix Voltaire is an award given to an individual who makes a difference through substantial relevance to society and has a clear innovative identity. 

Awarded by the Nyenrode Business University, the award is based on the 17 sustainable development goals. The first edition of Prix Voltaire International took place in 2018 and was presented during the ‘Dejeuner Prix Voltaire.’ Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, LanzaTech CEO, was the recipient of the 2021 Prix Voltaire International and received the distinguished award at a ceremony at the Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, earlier this month. 

Nominees this year have contributed in an admirable way to the essential issue in the 21st century, that is, to move from the 20th century of unsustainable development to a century of sustainable development. Tara Abrahams, Head of Impact at The Meteor; Juliet Davenport, Head of Good Energy Group; and, Dennis Karpes, Head of Kuyichi and founder of Justdiggit, were nominated for this year’s award along with Holmgren. Each nominee serves as a role model to others in making significant contributions that transcend borders and interests. 

According to the Prix Voltaire International jury, “All of the candidates are an inspiration to the challenges we face in reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.” The jurors included Debra Benton, an executive coach and author, David Katz, the 2019 recipient of the Prix Voltaire, and The Honorable Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Minister of State and former Secretary-General of NATO.

Past recipients include David Katz of the Plastic Bank and Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever.

The jurors found that “Holmgren is a True Friendly Fighter For Future-proof Fundamentals. The jury is impressed by her spirit, knowing she had to overcome challenging situations in her life to reach the position as a high-caliber female leader; her technical study, her qualification, and the position of her organization in an environment dominated by men. She is an inspiration to other young women in the world. Fighting for the concrete introduction of innovative, game-changing ideas. Her own words: “I like to work on things that can’t be done,” characterize and describe best what makes her outstanding. She is doing something that seemed impossible, and she is changing the way of thinking, finding an alternative to aviation fuel. This is thinking in a new way, in the true spirit of Voltaire. That is what marks our future going forward: Things that seemingly cannot be done will be realized by those who take the challenges on. 

In receiving the award, Holmgren said, “It was an honor even being considered for this award,” said Holmgren. “The real honor, however, was being considered along with such strong leaders, like Tara Abrahams, Juliet Davenport, and Dennis Karpes.  Each of them serves as a role model for generations to come on how we can turn ideas into realities that benefit each of us. The Prix Voltaire is an important award that recognizes the achievements of others. It is a symbol of how much work we have ahead of us. I am grateful for this honor and thank the members of the jury and Nyenrode Business University.”