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

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.


About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.