#nicolausaugustottoaward #naoa

Anniversary: This year, DEUTZ is presenting its prestigious Nicolaus August Otto Award for the fifth time. The engine manufacturer’s innovation prize is named for the inventor of the four-stroke engine and founder of the company that would later be-come DEUTZ AG.

As in the previous year, the 2023 award ceremony is taking place as part of the #neuland congress, a think tank for future-focused topics such as sustainable mobility.


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.



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.


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 2023

This year, DEUTZ AG is presenting its coveted innovation award to Professor Wan Gang. The professor, who has a PhD in engineering, formerly headed up the New Energy Automobile Engineering Center and later became Minister for Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China. He is being given the award in recognition of his research and other pioneering work.

Professor Wan Gang is held in high regard in academic, business, and political circles around the world for his pioneering work on electric vehicles and hydrogen technology. He studied experimental me-chanics at Tongji University in Shanghai and vehicle drive systems at Clausthal University of Technolo-gy in Germany, where he obtained his PhD. After a decade at Audi, during which he held senior roles in research and development, the professor returned to China in 2001. Back in his homeland, he was piv-otal in establishing the New Energy Automobile Engineering Center at Tongji University, and in doing so laid the foundations for his career in politics.

It all began with a vision: to make China a leader in electromobility. Professor Wan Gang brought this vision to reality thanks to his foresight and engineering prowess. Back in 2010, at the Expo in Shanghai, he showed that electric cars could be reliable and so made the world really start to believe in alternative drives. Professor Wan Gang is therefore very much following in the tradition of Nicolaus August Otto. To this day, the inventor of the four-stroke engine remains an inspiration for innovators around the world – and for research and development in the field of new and classic drive technologies.

Professor Wan Gang


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.

PDF (107 KB)
Greeting Speech 2023
Dr. Sebastian C. Schulte
PDF (269 KB)
Press release NAOA 2023,
DEUTZ presents innovation award
Video (720 MB)
Presentation NAOA 2022
Video (832 MB)
Panel 2022: Future hydrogen economy - Are we prepared?
PDF (141 KB)
Greeting Speech 2022
Dr. Markus Müller
PDF (296 KB)
Press release NAOA 2022
DEUTZ honors Zara Rutherford
PDF (2,24 MB)
Festschrift NAOA 2021
PDF (416 KB)
Press release NAOA 2021,
DEUTZ presents innovation award
Video (125 MB)
Acceptance Speech
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle
Winner of the Nicolaus August Otto Award 2020
Video (197 MB)
Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart
Minister of Economics of North Rhine Westphalia
Video (71,1 MB)
Greeting Speech
Dr. Bernd Bohr
Chairman of the Supervisory Board, DEUTZ AG
PDF (4,9 MB)
Festschrift NAOA 2020
Zip (192 MB)
Impressions of the NAO award ceremony 2019
PDF (4,7 MB)
Festschrift NAOA 2019
PDF (16,3 KB)
Press release NAO 2019
Image (6 MB)
DEUTZ Innovation Center 2020