Rob Katz

Lemelson-MIT Awards Sustainable Invention and Innovation

AmySmithMITPhoto.jpgFans of technical and sustainable innovation, take note – the Lemelson-MIT Awards are coming up again. For those who don?t know, the awards recognize inventors’ impact on economic and social well-being – to the tune of $500,000 (technology), $100,000 (sustainability), or $30,000 (student prize). Past winners include D-Lab founder/BOP design guru Amy Smith, and Segway inventor Dean Kamen–whose recent work has centered on clean water delivery in poor rural communities.

deanKamen.jpgThe awards will accept nominations through October 27. NextBillion readers may be particularly interested in the Sustainability award:

The $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability celebrates individuals whose inventions and innovations enhance economic opportunity and community well-being in developing and/or developed countries, while protecting and restoring the natural environment.

Yep, sounds about right. This is the first year for the Sustainability award–previously, it was a lifetime achievement prize. I’m glad to see the organizers acknowledge sustainability’s growing role, but I can?t help but notice the huge discrepancy between the technical innovation prize and the sustainability prize. Why is sustainability worth one-fifth as much as ’standard’ technical innovation? Regardless, be sure to check out the application section for more information, and stay tuned to NextBillion–we’ll report on the winners in late October or early November.