The members of the Migros community gave their founder Gottlieb Duttweiler a present in 1958. However, the CHF 200,000 they gifted him to commemorate his 70th birthday had some strings attached.

The idea was that he would use the money to establish a Gottlieb Duttweiler Award. Duttweiler subsequently transferred responsibility for administering the money and the award of the prize to his "Im Grüene" Foundation, to which the GDI belongs. .

According to the deed of foundation, the Gottlieb Duttweiler Award should go to people who have made "outstanding contributions to the well-being of the wider community and to a cultural, social or economic environment in which everyone can realize their potential and play an independent part in its development".

Its previous winners include Václav Havel (1990), Joschka Fischer (2004), Kofi Annan (2008) and Tim Berners-Lee (2015). The prize, which is endowed with CHF 100,000, is only awarded every few years. It is presented to the recipient at a ceremony held at the institute in Rüschlikon and attended by invitees from the realms of business, politics and culture. ​

2019 prize-winner: Watson

The 13th Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize was awarded to the AI platform Watson. It was accepted in Watson’s stead by IBM’s Director of Research John E. Kelly III on 7 May 2019. ​

Watson is the world’s most powerful computing platform in the field of artificial intelligence. Developed by IBM, it became more widely known in 2011 on winning the US television quiz show “Jeopardy!”. Nowadays, Watson performs invaluable services, notably in the fields of healthcare, transportation, retail and more.

Watson stands for a future in which superhuman complexity will be mastered with superhuman intelligence. Without it, we will be unable to solve problems like global warming, diseases or poor education. But where and for which aspects of our lives does technology make sense? “With its consciously controversial choice of prize winner, the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute wants to contribute to this discussion,” says Sarah Kreienbühl, Chairwoman of the GDI Board of Trustees. The fact that Watson is co-developed in Switzerland also demonstrates the significance of this country as a research location.

2015 prize-winner: Tim Berners-Lee

The prize was awarded to the founder of the World Wide Web, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, as part of a celebratory ceremony on 29 April 2015. Swiss-born Harvard professor Urs Gasser gave a speech praising Berners-Lee’s achievements. ​

Sir Tim was awarded the prestigious prize for his huge contribution to the most powerful means of communication known to humankind – as well as inventing the enabling technologies behind the web, he has worked tirelessly to ensure the internet is open to all. As part of his commitment to this cause, he has waived all potentially profitable patents.

"Today we honour the uncompromising, radically democratic actions of a man whom we can only admire," said David Bosshart, Head of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI). "Far more important than the technological aspect of this development is the social impact," stressed Fabrice Zumbrunnen, a member of the Migros Executive Board and President of the Foundation Im Grüene (which is part of the GDI).

Sir Tim considers the social and democratic aspect of the web to be under threat. The risk of fragmentation, which he warned of as far back as 1999, continues to spread: nations and companies are working with increasingly closed networks and not even half of the world’s population has access to the internet. "Over 25 years ago, Sir Tim gave us a tool to communicate, cooperate and create a better world," said Urs Gasser, Professor at Harvard University and native of Switzerland, in his speech. "Now it is our turn to shape the future of the web together."

2013 prize-winner: Ernst Fehr

The 2013 Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize was awarded to Ernst Fehr, a professor of economics. The Vorarlberg native, who now lectures at the University of Zurich, was honoured for his ground-breaking research on the role played by fairness in markets, organisations and in individual decisions.

The Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize was awarded to Ernst Fehr on the evening of 9 April 2013 during a celebratory ceremony. His colleague Dan Ariely, himself an internationally recognised economics researcher, gave a speech highlighting Fehr’s achievements.

Fehr received the renowned prize for his ground-breaking research on the role played by fairness in markets, organisations and in individual decisions. His globally respected research demonstrates that people are often driven by a desire for fairness, not selfishness. This saw Fehr, one of the key representatives of behavioural economics, play a crucial role in the psychological shift in economics, which revised the view of humans as homo economicus.

Fehr’s services for the fields of business and society were emphasised by Fabrice Zumbrunnen, President of the ‘Im Grüene’ foundation (to which the GDI also belongs), who gave the award and the associated CHF 100,000 to the Austrian-born lecturer, who now lectures in Zurich. Zumbrunnen, Head of the Department of HR, Cultural Affairs and Leisure at Migros, highlighted Fehr’s achievement in redefining how people are seen within the field of economics with the following words of congratulations: ‘You show and prove that the homo economicus doesn’t just have a head, but also a heart!’

SRF about Ernst Fehr

2011 prize-winner: Jimmy Wales

The Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize was awarded to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on the evening of 26 January 2011. SRG director general Roger de Weck gave a speech paying tribute to Wales’ work. ​

Jimmy Wales was awarded the prestigious prize for his services in making access to knowledge more democratic. The award, which is endowed with 100,000 Swiss francs, was presented by Gisèle Girgis, member of the Executive Board of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives. In her speech she evoked the name of the encyclopedist of the Enlightenment, Denis Diderot, and compared Jimmy Wales with him: «Both of them have faith in the power of the critical public.»

Claude Hauser, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives (MGB), emphasised the parallels between the non-profit encyclopedia and Gottlieb Duttweiler's non-profit-oriented organisation, the Migros Culture Percentage.

2008 prize-winner: Kofi Annan †

Nobel Peace Prize winner and former UN Secretary General Kofi A. Annan was presented with the old-established Gottlieb Duttweiler Award at a formal ceremony held in Rüschlikon on the evening of 8 September 2008.

The award was presented to Annan by Gisèle Girgis, President of the ‘Im Grüene’ foundation. Federal President Pascal Couchepin delivered an address on behalf of the government, while two friends of Annan’s, former Federal Councillor Adolf Ogi and British-Sudanese entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim, gave speeches paying homage to his work. Herbert Bolliger, President of the Executive Board of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives (FMC), and Claude Hauser, President of the Administration of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives (FMC), represented Migros’ senior management on the stage, while Daniela Lager, the host of Swiss news show ‘10 vor 10’, presented the evening. ​


2004 prize-winner: Joschka Fischer

The politician from Germany’s Alliance 90/The Greens party served as Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister from 1998 to 2005 in Gerhard Schröder’s government.

1998 prize-winner: Roger Schawinski

Schawinski is well-known in Switzerland as a media pioneer and TV host. He invented numerous Swiss TV shows and founded the first national private TV broadcaster.

1993 prize-winner: Esther Afua Ocloo †

The Ghanaian entrepreneur and co-founder of the Women's World Bank made a significant contribution to the fight against hunger and to the promotion of independent women in Africa.

1990 prize-winner: Václav Havel †

Czech writer and politician, President of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992. Havel accepted the Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize in Rüschlikon in November 1990. Author Friedrich Dürrenmatt gave a speech in tribute to his achievements. ​

Awardees since 1970

1970 Prof. Bramstedt, Würzburg, nutritional scientist, efforts to combat dental decay

1972 Prof. Egon Kodicek, Cambridge, nutritional scientist

1975 Dr. Paul Fabri, nutritional scientist, efforts to combat obesity

1988 Lisbeth and Robert Schläpfer, St. Gallen, entrepreneurs in the textile sector

1990 Vaclav Havel, President of Czechoslovakia

1993 D r. Esther Afua Ocloo, Ghana, businesswoman and nutritional scientist

1998 Dr. Roger Schawinski, Zurich, radio and television pioneer, Radio 24, Tele24

2004 Joschka Fischer, German foreign minister

2008 Kofi A. Annan, UN Secretary General, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

2011 Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia

2013 Prof. Ernst Fehr, internationally renowned behavioral economist

2015 Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web

2019 Watson, AI platform

Stay up-to-date with the GDI newsletter.