MIT Creates Global Award for Sustainability, but Only if You're in the U.S.

Why are sustainable innovations for the developing world limited to inventors based in the U.S.?

MIT once again takes the lead in driving bottom of the pyramid innovations with its latest announcement of the $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability. From the Lemelson-MIT website:

The $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability honors inventors whose products or processes impact issues of global relevance, as well as issues that impact local communities in terms of meeting basic health needs, and building sustainable livelihoods for the world's poorest populations.

MIT students and researchers have already produced scads of inventions that aim to improve the lives of those living on less than $2 per day, or "the bottom of the pyramid." There's the all-terrain wheelchairs for the poor, ventilators for disaster zones and a $3 suction healing device.

Nominations are due by October 5th and should highlight inventors who "enhance human development, mitigate human environmental impact, and/or provide adaptations to environmental changes that are unalterable in the near term."

Still, it's unfortunate that eligibility is limited to "U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or foreign nationals currently working legally in the United States." There is plenty of innovation at the bottom of the pyramid, and $100,000 goes a lot farther there.

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  • Edward Canton

    As the Awards Program Officer for the Lemelson-MIT Program, thank you to Fast Company for the article about the Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability. This US-based award promotes innovations that address challenges facing the developing world, with a goal of recognizing and honoring individuals who have produced technological inventions that make a positive impact in developing countries.

    We also wanted to note that the inspiring innovations mentioned in this article produced by MIT students, are not connected to the Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability. This is a national award, not limited to members of the MIT community. Our most recent winner, Dr. BP Agrawal who developed a holistically sustainable approach to solve water resource issues in Rajasthan, India, was profiled in a Fast Company article this past June,

    We hope to see 2011 nominations from Fast Company’s innovative readers!