After training to be a businessman, Otto works as a traveling salesperson in Cologne from 1853, and starts to delve into the world of internal combustion engine technology.
A prize that honors the innovative power and pioneering spirit of inventors and visionaries: this is the Nicolaus August Otto Award, presented annually by DEUTZ AG in memory of its founder, who changed the world with his courage, ingenuity, and innovative ideas.
Due to the applicable corona protection measures, the award ceremony this year took place virtually. You can soon watch the film of the award ceremony on this website.
For more than 150 years, DEUTZ AG has stood for unsurpassed drive technology, which is why it is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of groundbreaking drive systems today. Founded by the pioneer and coinventor of the four-stroke principle, Nicolaus August Otto, the traditional Cologne-based company has succeeded in constantly reinventing itself and meeting the challenges posed by changing factors with innovative strength.
By awarding the Nicolaus August Otto Award, named after its founder, DEUTZ AG aims to herald a symbolic renaissance of innovation and pioneering spirit. This is why the Nicolaus August Otto Award is awarded for decisive shaping of the future, novel technology, groundbreaking futurology, and for an outstanding lifetime achievement. It is intended to honor visionaries of our time and, endowed with prize money of €30,000, to promote the prize winners’ new, big ideas. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, minister for economic affairs, innovation, digitization, and energy for North Rhine-Westphalia, is patron of the award. The former rector of the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management and tenured professor for innovation management and entrepreneurship is an expert in promoting innovation and his support of the award stands for the importance of today’s pioneering spirit.
NICOLAUS AUGUST OTTO
Otto starts to test a four-stroke engine he had built himself, which did not, however, lead to the intended success he had wished for due to the explosive nature of the fuel.
Otto gives up his job as a traveling salesperson and founds N.A.Otto & Cie. (DEUTZ AG today) together with the engineer and sugar manufacturer Eugen Langen – the first factory in the world dedicated exclusively to the production of internal combustion engines.
An atmospheric gas engine developed by Otto and Langen is awarded the gold medal at the world’s fair in Paris for being the most economical engine for small businesses.
Otto completes the four-stroke engine with compressed charge, which can be used for all types of fuel and applications.
Otto receives an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Würzburg together with Bell, the inventor of the telephone.
Otto ends his work on the internal combustion engine with the development of the magneto-electric low-voltage ignition, the prerequisite for internal combustion engines that are independent of the gas network.
Otto dies on January 26, in Cologne at the age of 59. At Cologne’s Melaten cemetery, a grave of honor commemorates the inventor of the four-stroke principle today.
As part of the USA’s celebrations of the 100th anniversary of its automobile history, Otto is inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit together with Wilhelm Maybach.
On March 5, 2002, Otto is inducted into the European Automotive Hall of Fame in Geneva.
The Nicolaus August Otto Award is awarded for the first time.
THE AWARD WINNER
This year, DEUTZ AG is presenting the Nicolaus August Otto Award to Professor Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle - research engineer, business leader, and visionary in the world of drive technologies Reitzle was an eady advocate of hydrogen drives and fuel cell technology, ln the latter half of the 1980s, while at BMW, he developed one of the first hydrogen cars and to this day is regarded as a pioneer of sustainable, low-emission transport and of the hydrogen society Reitzle sees hydrogen-powered vehicles as a realistic alternative to combustion and battery-powered engines, He takes bold steps to drive fonruard his visions and in 2OO9 was already planning an industrial alltance aimed ai helping the fuel cell to make its breaKhrough, Under Reitzle's stewardship, Linde AG supplied fuel cell passenger cars for a carsharing project in Munich in 2016, and in 2O1B it supplied ultra-efficient technology that doubled the hydrogen refueling capacity in California.
Reitzle studied engineering and economics at the Technical University of Munich, where he received his doctorate in engineering with the highest possible distinction. ln .1976, at just 27 years of age, he began working as a production specialist for BMW, rising to become Head of Research and then Chief Development Officer, Known as the 'car guy', he presided over the development of a series of successful models and rising sales figures at the carmaker. ln 1999, he moved to Ford, where he was in charge of the brands Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo, Land Bover, and Lincoln as CEO of the Premier Automotive Group. ln 2002, Reitzle was appointed CEO of the induskial gas and technology firm Linde. By 2014 he had turned it into one of the most valuable publicly listed companies in Germany, In 2018, as head of Linde's Supervisory Board, he played a major part in driving fonvard the merger with Praxair. Reitzle is Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Continental AG and a member of the supervisory board in several high-profile companies in Germany and abroad, and he also sits on the Board of Trustees of the Technical University of Munich.
You can find some impressions from the last Nicolaus August Otto Award ceremony here in the form of videos, images, and documents. All media can be downloaded for free.
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle
Winner of the Nicolaus August Otto Award 2020