Nominations are accepted in the following Edison Award categories. Categories may be broken down into sub-categories which reflect the emerging innovations of each year.

More than a century before they became realities, Thomas Edison accurately predicted an aeronautical world that included space travel, airplanes and drones. Now the “sky’s the limit” for today’s inventors who are ushering in the future at supersonic speed. This category encompasses all innovations that relate to aviation and space.
Little did Thomas Edison know that, upon the completion of his Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory in 1876, he would invent the process we know today as Research and Development. At Menlo Park—and later at West Orange. Edison used a systematic process of innovation to churn out new-to-the-world technologies, including the world’s first phonograph, the incandescent electric light, the system of electrical power, motion pictures, and the alkaline storage battery. These technologies transformed the lives of virtually every individual in the developed world from the 1870’s to the 21st century. Enter products and services here that include the application of scientific knowledge to practical technological advancements such as information technology, industrial design, AI and Machine Learning, and other commercial applications.
Edison believed products should be easy to buy and priced in a way that audiences could enjoy them. Edison marketed several types of phonographs ranging from super-premium to bare bones lines, ensuring that Edison records could be enjoyed by millions. He worked with concessionaires and created licensing arrangements to ensure broad distribution for all his Edison-branded products, ranging from motion pictures to batteries.This category is for products or services that make a positive impact on consumer lifestyles. Products can be for home/office, indoor/outdoor and include innovative packaging designs across all retail channels.
Development of the modern electric grid was begun shortly after Thomas Edison successfully harnessed the power of electricity in the late 1800’s with the creation of the first practical electric incandescent lamp. Infrastructures that integrate essential societal needs for energy, water, waste, communications and safety improve quality of life around the world, spur economic growth, and drive all of us toward a more sustainable future. This category is for innovations which improve lives today and prepare our communities for a more resilient and secure tomorrow.
Largely self-taught and homeschooled, Thomas Edison embodied the essence of experiential education as he deeply immersed himself into an infinite array of subjects. Edison is quoted saying, “My refuge was the Detroit Public Library. I started, it now seems to me, with the first book on the bottom shelf and I went through the lot, one by one. I didn’t read a few books. I read the library.” This category is for products and services that embody innovation in the ever-evolving fields of education.
This branch of science and technology is concerned with the design, building, and use of structures and machines of complex nature. Rooted in mathematics both engineering and robotics are at the heart of innovation- as machines themselves become the tools of innovators.This category encompasses a broad variety of solutions.
Thomas Edison used soup as an interviewing tool. He had prospective job applicants taste soup while he observed carefully. Those who seasoned the soup—with pepper, for instance—before tasting it were rejected outright as Edison believed such candidates would hold too many assumptions to think outside the box. Although this example isn’t specific to a food innovation, it does demonstrate that genius and food have a lot in common, as both nurture, inspire and occasionally intimidate. This category is for advancements in both agriculture production (like irrigation, GMOs, and automation) and in natural foods and produced foods–including laboratory grown meat-alternatives.
Thomas Edison developed the first commercially available fluoroscope for X-ray examinations, and his fundamental design remains in use today. Enter products and services here that impact patients and providers in the Health and Wellness, Advanced Healthcare, and solutions for both medical and dental.
Service innovation is about doing things better and doing better things. In Edison’s era, it was extraordinary for people to receive electrical power service when they were accustomed to using coal, kerosene, whale oil, wood or other forms of energy. Edison created a safe, convenient way for power to be consumed in homes and businesses, demonstrating that innovation is just as much about creating access to a product or delivering it as it is about inventing the product itself. Innovative services may be multi-dimensional, involving technology and product innovation, customer interface and service delivery, organizational innovations, and innovations related to new networks, apps and value chain configurations.
Thomas Edison not only developed a systematic approach to innovation, he also designed interior spaces and work environments that were conducive to fostering innovation. His Menlo Park and West Orange Laboratories offered unique interactive spaces as well as areas for solitude. The culture of innovation in Edison’s workplaces was palpable to visitors and employees alike. Regarding living spaces, most notably, he developed a system for pouring entire two-story homes from concrete, offering low cost shelters and homes for families. Nominate products and services that are designed to impact human surroundings including dwellings of all types.
The Edison Manufacturing Company was one of many companies created by Edison to manufacture and market his inventions at a large scale. Enter new product and service solutions related to new manufacturing methods, distribution and global logistics.
Edison’s advances in incandescent lights established just how crucial it was to get the right materials for durable filaments. Materials improvements underlie high tech electronics, aerospace, transportation and more. Advances in this area also enable new technologies such as modern construction, packaging, sports equipment, water purification and much that we take for granted. This category recognizes advances in the materials that extend what is possible, covering manipulation of structure and properties whether through nanotechnology, chemistry, metallurgy or formulation.
Thomas Edison’s lifelong focus was to create innovations that improved the personal lives of his fellow humans. Products and services in this category could include such things as wearables, consumer electronics, IOT, athletics/sports/recreation technology, media and entertainment innovations, and health and wellness breakthroughs.
As a vital contributor to the automobile’s early beginnings, Thomas Edison’s storage battery powered Model T automobiles and municipal vehicles nationwide. Envisioning vehicles with batteries that could be recharged as-if “sun-engines” that yoked the power of sunlight, Edison’s vision saw beyond his own capabilities and into the innovations of the future. Fun fact: another of Edison’s most profitable, but little-known inventions—the Electric Railway—was eventually expanded, patented, and sold. Smart Transportation is a broad category that encompasses new ways of transport of goods and people. Electric vehicles of every kind, magnetic railways, collapsible boats, and driverless cars and trucking applications are all examples of nominations that fit in this category.
Thomas Edison believed that innovation was fundamentally a social force. He felt it permeated all aspects of our lives and our society. His view of innovation as a force for positive change fundamentally shaped his sense of purpose. Edison declared “bringing out the secrets of nature and applying them for the happiness of man… I know of no better service to render during the short time we are in this world.” Enter products and services here that address societal needs and strengthen civil society.
Thomas Edison once said, “Someday we will harness the rise and fall of the tides and imprison the rays of the sun.” Edison was a sustainability visionary long before humanity knew there would be a need for such inventions. With a worldwide focus on the health and longevity of our planet, this category encompasses products and services that support nurturing our environment through their composition, biodegradability, manufacturing ethics, and other earth-centric practices.