Lemelson Foundation

Lemelson Foundation (2)

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.

For more information, visit: web.mit.edu/invent or www.nciia.org



The Lemelson Foundation, an organization that believes invention is critical to solving the world’s most challenging problems, today announced it is pledging more than $4 million across six partners that create and advance social innovations for people who need it most in both the U.S. and developing countries. The spring 2011 Lemelson grantees include Ashoka, East Meets West, Root Capital and SELCO.

“The Lemelson Foundation not only supports organizations that leverage technology and innovation to solve problems around the world, we invest in partners that foster and promote invention and entrepreneurship,” said Denis Prager, interim executive director of The Lemelson Foundation. “We know funding an individual invention can only go so far: Developing an ecosystem around innovation will ensure a breakthrough idea has lasting impact and can truly change lives.”

The Foundation frequently serves as the first line of funding for early-stage enterprises focused on sustainable technologies. The following spring 2011 grantees will be the catalyst for turning innovative ideas into impactful inventions that foster change in developing countries as well as local U.S. communities:


*Ashoka, the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, received a grant to support two programs that address the needs of inventors: the Youth Venture program (receiving $270,000 over three years), which encourages young people to invent, and the Ashoka Accelerator program ($630,000 over three years), which will enable Ashoka to support inventors in getting their ideas to mass market.

*East Meets West, a humanitarian organization working in health and education in Southeast Asia, will receive $1,500,000 over three years to support a partnership with Design that Matters, a design firm that works with social enterprises to develop new neonatal health technologies. Funding also will support the replication of East Meets West’s Breath of Life neonatal health program to new countries.

*Root Capital is a nonprofit social investment fund that supports grassroots businesses in rural areas of developing countries. The Foundation is investing $600,000 over three years and also is providing a no-interest, program-related investments (PRI) loan of $500,000 to support a fund that lends capital to farmer-owned cooperatives in Latin America, Africa and Asia to help purchase life-changing technologies.

*SELCO, a Bangalore-based business whose mission is to enhance the quality of life in India by providing affordable solar technology solutions to the poor, will receive $650,000 over five years to expand SELCO Labs, a new arm of the organization that identifies, tests and helps commercialize technologies that meet the needs of the rural poor in southern India.

*In addition to these grants, the Foundation is announcing support for The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, a global network of more than 110 organizations that connects innovators to resources and propels entrepreneurship in the developing world, and to Rosemary Anderson High School, a Portland, Ore., high school for at-risk youths.


“The Lemelson Foundation understands the social enterprise space and the need for long-term investments,” said Harish Hande, CEO of SELCO. “Because of the Foundation’s seed funding, we can immediately put resources into creating and testing products, business models and resources that are improving lives in a holistic manner. Many other foundations and institutions will only provide support after the concepts have been tested extensively.”

Founded in 1993 by prolific inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy, The Lemelson Foundation has devoted the past two decades to fostering creativity, celebrating the inventive spirit and providing inventors around the world with the opportunity to make an impact. With more than 600 patents to his name, Jerome Lemelson believed that invention was the core driver of economic and social prosperity.

About The Lemelson Foundation
The Lemelson Foundation uses its resources to inspire, encourage and recognize inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs to support invention-led economic, social and environmentally sustainable development. It has donated or committed more than $150 million in support of its mission to improve lives through invention in the U.S. and developing countries.

For more information visit: www.lemelson.org

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