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 and drones. Now “the sky’s the limit” sets too low a bar for today’s inventors who are ushering in the future at super-sonic 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, artificial intelligence, applied technology, industrial design, and other far-reaching technology applications.
Edison believed products should be easy to buy, and priced in a way that multiple 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. Enter products here that make an impact on consumer lifestyles or on a cpg category/aisle. Products can be for home/office, indoor/outdoor and include innovative packaging designs across all retail channels.
Partially deafened during a childhood accident, Thomas Edison stated, “My deafness has not been a handicap but a help to me,” as he transformed that challenge into an enhanced focus on his inventions and new discoveries. Today, innovators around the world are meeting the COVID-19 challenge with unprecedented levels of collaboration and discovery. Enter products and services that benefit patients, healthcare providers or the world community in its fight against COVID-19.
Critical Human Infrastructure, Water, Energy and Telecommunications
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, communications and safety improve quality of life around the world, spur economic growth, and drive towards a more sustainable future. This category includes products, services and infrastructures that improve lives today and prepare for a more resilient, secure tomorrow.
Largely self-taught and homeschooled, Thomas Edison embodied the essence of education as he deeply immersed himself into an infinite array of subjects as evidenced in this quote: “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 field of education.
Engineering & Materials Science
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.
Service innovation is about doing things better and doing better things. It can be multi-dimensional, involving technology and product innovation, customer interface and service delivery, organizational innovations, and innovations related to new network and value chain configurations. 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.
Living & Working Environments
Thomas Edison not only developed a systematic approach to innovation, he 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. Edison also designed innovative living spaces. Most notably, he developed a system for pouring entire two-story homes from concrete, offering low cost shelter for families. Enter products and services here that impact human surroundings at home or work.
Manufacturing, Logistics, and Transportation
As a vital contributor to the automobile’s early beginnings, Thomas Edison's storage battery powered Model T automobiles and municipal vehicles nationwide. Another of Edison's most profitable, but little-known inventions—the Electric Railway—was eventually expanded, patented, and sold. The Edison Manufacturing Company was one of many companies created by Edison to manufacture and market his batteries and other inventions. Enter innovative products and services related to manufacturing, transportation, or logistics in this category.
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, athletics/sports/recreation technology, media and entertainment innovations, or health/wellness breakthroughs.
Science, Medical & Dental
The first commercially purchasable fluoroscope for X-ray examinations was developed by Thomas Edison; the fundamental design of Edison's fluoroscope is still in use today. Enter products and services here that impact patients and providers in the healthcare field, both medical and dental.
Thomas Edison once said, "Someday we will harness the rise and fall of the tides and imprison the rays of the sun." Envisioning vehicles with batteries that could be recharged at hotels and “sun-engines” that yoked the power of sunlight, 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 that mission.