PORTLAND, OR, November 29, 2012 —Today, The Lemelson Foundation announced it is awarding more than $24 million to two organizations in order to inspire and educate the next generation of inventors with the knowledge and skills necessary to transform their ideas into inventions and those inventions into enterprises that improve lives and stimulate the economy.
The Lemelson-MIT Program, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) – a network of nearly 200 colleges and universities – will each receive slightly over $12 million in core programming support over four years to fund their work.
“Over the years, we’ve seen that student inventors are capable of creating compelling solutions to address the challenges we face in the modern world. We’re harnessing the creativity of young inventors and helping them move their technologies from idea to reality. Supporting the expansion of robust innovation ecosystems and learning opportunities in higher education is critical to generating career opportunities for emerging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) graduate students, commercialization returns for universities, and economic growth for the U.S. economy. Our work with The Lemelson Foundation and the work of other Foundation grantees, including the Lemelson-MIT Program, enables us to engage emerging innovators and bridges that gap,” says Phil Weilerstein, Executive Director of the NCIIA.
“Our founder, Jerome Lemelson, understood that invention is a core driver of economic and social prosperity. We were established under his belief that the next generation of inventors could be equipped to maintain and enhance the US economy by providing them with the STEM knowledge and hands-on training to turn their ideas into inventions that drive commercial outcomes. Organizations like the Lemelson-MIT Program and NCIIA are well positioned to take Jerome Lemelson’s vision and translate that into practical outcomes,” says Carol Dahl, Executive Director of The Lemelson Foundation.
The Lemelson-MIT Program: Celebrating innovation, inspiring youth
Established by Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy in 1994, the Lemelson-MIT Program works to celebrate outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. The recent grant from The Lemelson Foundation will continue support for annual awards, including the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize which recognizes outstanding mid-career inventors – such as 2012 Lemelson-MIT Prize winner Stephen Quake, whose biomedical discoveries and breakthrough technologies have allowed others to engage in scientific discovery and the prototyping of new biomedical devices quicker and easier. Lemelson-MIT Prize winners also serve as role models for the next generation of inventors.
In addition to the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, the program awards prizes to promising collegiate inventors, and helps empower teams of high school students – called InvenTeamsÔ – to create technological solutions to real-world problems through the application of STEM knowledge.
“Engaging young people in creative thinking, problem-solving and hands-on learning in STEM is essential to inspire students to pursue the inventive careers that the US economy needs,” says Joshua Schuler, Executive Director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. “The InvenTeams experience encourages collaboration among students, and professionals from industry and academia to understand not just the technological requirements for their inventions, but how to design technologies that serve the user’s needs, often with the users themselves. Students gain the necessary skills to be competitive and successful in their education and careers. Most of all, they learn the invention process and are well-positioned for future opportunities, such as those offered by NCIIA and beyond.”
NCIIA: Helping university inventors bring concepts to commercialization
Established in 1995 with support from The Lemelson Foundation, the NCIIA catalyzes positive social and environmental impact through invention and technological innovation by providing funding, training and mentoring for university faculty and student innovators. With support from The Lemelson Foundation, the National Science Foundation and a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, the NCIIA engages approximately 5,000 student entrepreneurs each year, leveraging their campuses as working laboratories for invention and innovation and incubators for businesses, and ultimately helping them to bring their ideas to market.
“NCIIA is at the leading edge of entrepreneurship education; funding, supporting and training faculty and student innovators in higher education and beyond. Through our E-Team program and the funding we provide faculty for courses and programs, NCIIA is strengthening the innovation economy by cultivating inventors and providing resources and opportunities to catalyze their success.” says Weilerstein.