No Boundaries

Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone 
co-founders, Twitter
for creating a real-time social messaging application



Process and Service

Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler 
co-founders, Kickstarter
for creating an online way to finance creative projects through a technique called crowdfunding


Consumer Products

Renaud Laplanche 
Founder and CEO, Lending Club
for pioneering peer-to-peer consumer lending


Energy and the Environment

Urs Hölzle
Senior Vice President, Technical Infrastructure, Google
for techniques used to create energy-efficient data centres




Jay Keasling
Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley and Senior Faculty Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
for synthetic artemisinin used to treat malaria


Jay Keasling will be speaking at Innovation Summit 2014 >>


Computing and Telecommunications

Andrew Rubin
Senior Vice President, Google
for producing the world's most widely used smartphone operating system: Android




Pixar Animation Studios 
for its groundbreaking computer animation tools, technology and feature films


Social and Economic

Nandan Nilekani
former head, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)
for his leadership of the country’s national identity scheme

Our awards celebrate outstanding innovators (individuals not organisations) in the following categories:

Includes pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and agriculture

Includes hardware, software, security, telecommunications

May include the product or design in support of a product

Includes green technologies, utilities and transportation

Technology-based products or services that don't fit neatly into any of the above categories (this includes materials science, nanotechnology and other emerging fields, e.g. blue-violet laser)

Enabling compounds, products, technologies or methodologies which underpin product discovery, design, or manufacturing, as well as fulfillment
processes in business and education

Novel technologies and business models that improve everyday lives (e.g. microcredit)

For corporate use of innovation: Nominations submitted by the judging panel only.


The judges: the brightest and most innovative minds network

Tom Standage, Digital Editor, The Economist and Editor, Technology Quarterly (Chairman)
Tom Standage is Digital Editor at The Economist and the author of four history books, including A History of the World in Six Glasses, a New York Times bestseller, and The Victorian Internet, described by the Wall Street Journal as a "dot-com cult classic". Mr Standage has also written for publications including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The New York Times and Wired. Mr Standage holds a degree in engineering and computer science from Oxford University.


Yet-Ming Chiang, Kyocera Professor of Ceramics, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
​Yet-Ming Chiang is Kyocera Professor of Ceramics in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He holds S.B. and Sc.D. degrees from MIT, where he has been a faculty member since 1984. His work focuses on advanced materials and their role in clean energy, medical technologies, and micro/nano electronics. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and the Materials Research Society. He has received the American Ceramic Society's Ross Coffin Purdy, R.M. Fulrath, and F.H. Norton Awards. He has published over 200 scientific articles, one textbook, and holds about 35 issued patents and a similar number of pending patent applications.


George Craford,  Chief Technology Officer, Philips Lumileds Lighting Company
George Craford was an early pioneer in LED technology, which is now on the verge of displacing virtually all conventional light sources. In 1996, he worked with Roland Haitz to develop and promote the widespread use of LEDs, now widely used in traffic signals, clocks, cars, flashlights, cellular telephones, and architectural and decorative lighting. Mr Craford's research has been focused mainly on the development of visible LEDs using a variety of semiconductor materials.

Hernando De Soto, Chairman, Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD)
Hernando de Soto is currently President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, an internationally recognised think-tank headquartered in Lima, Peru. He has advised several heads of state on property reform programmes, and is the author of The Other Path, in the mid-1980s, and his seminal work The Mystery of Capital.

Rodney Ferguson, Managing Director, Panorama Capital
Dr Rodney Ferguson is a co-founder of Panorama Capital, a venture capital firm that spun off from JPMorgan Partners (JPMP), where he focuses primarily on life sciences investments. He joined JPMP as a Managing Director in their life sciences venture practice in 2001. Dr Ferguson serves on the technology advisory board of The Economist.

Napoleone Ferrara, Senior Deputy Director for Basic Science, University of California, San Diego
Napoleone joined UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center after a storied career at the biotechnology giant Genentech, where he pioneered development of new treatments for cancer and age-related macular degeneration. There, he discovered vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)—and made the first VEGF antibody—which suppresses growth of a variety of tumors. In 2012, Napoleone was a recipient of The Economist Innovation Awards for bioscience.

Francois Grey, Visiting Professor, Physics, Tsinghua University
François Grey is currently a Visiting Professor of Physics at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He has a research background in nanotechnology and a passion for citizen cyberscience. He has been writing about innovation for The Economist for over 20 years, and was a winner of the ABSW Science Writers’ Award.

Robert Guest, Business Editor, The Economist 
Robert Guest is The Economist's Washington correspondent. He covers American news and politics and writes a weekly column under the pseudonym "Lexington". He blogs at From July 2010, he will be The Economist's business editor.He is the author of The Shackled Continent, a book that tries to explain why Africa is so poor and how it could become less so.

Mo Ibrahim, Founder, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Dr Mo Ibrahim is a global expert in mobile communications with a distinguished academic, business and philanthropic career. In 1998, Dr Ibrahim founded the mobile operator Celtel International, one of Africa’s most successful companies. In 2006 Dr Ibrahim established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to support great African leadership and Satya Capital, an investment company focused on opportunities in Africa.

Vic Hayes, Senior Research Fellow, Delft University of Technology
Popularly known as the “Father of Wi-Fi,” Vic Hayes is Senior Research Fellow at Delft University of Technology in Delft, Netherlands. From 1990 to 2000 he co-established and led a standards working group (IEEE 802.11) that set the basis for wireless data transfer.  

Luke Ibbetson, Head of R&D Technology, Group Research & Development, Vodafone Group
Luke has been with Vodafone since 1996 and is currently leading the Vodafone Group Research and Development organisation. Luke is responsible for all aspects of network / IT research including Vodafone’s participation in international standards, definition of the architectural blueprint for future networks, trials of emerging / disruptive technologies, the evolution of mobile security and long term spectrum requirements. Luke led Vodafone's exploration of alternative access solutions “beyond 3G” and is now shaping Vodafone's 5G strategy. Luke has a passion for fresh thinking and has successfully championed the introduction of many new technology start-up companies within Vodafone.

Salim Ismail,  Global Ambassador, Singularity University
Salim Ismail is a speaker, strategist and entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He has travelled extensively addressing breakthrough technologies and their impact on various industries. He has been Vice-president at Yahoo where he launched and ran Brickhouse, Yahoo’s internal incubator, and has founded or operated seven other early-stage companies, including his last company Angstro which was sold to Google in 2010. He has spent the last three years building Singularity University, which focuses on training leaders in managing exponentially growing technologies, as it’s founding Executive Director and Global Ambassador.

Jimmy Kim, Co-Founder & Partner, SparkLabs Global Ventures​
Jimmy Kim is Co-founder & Partner at SparkLabs Global Ventures. He is also a Co-founder & General Partner at SparkLabs, a startup accelerator in Korea. Jimmy is Co-founder and Chairman of the board of N3N, an interactive software company that mixes passion, creativity and technology to create new interactive user experiences and innovative presentation solutions. N3N’s client lists include BMW, Infiniti, Nike Golf, Dentsu, Korea Telecom and other leading worldwide companies. He previously served as N3N’s CEO. Jimmy is sought-after speaker on online gaming and technology and has spoken at various conference such as LeWeb, Ad:Tech, and Web 2.0 Expo.

Susie Lonie, Mobile Payments Consultant
An engineer by training, Susie is one of the creators of the M-PESA money transfer service; launching the proramme in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. M-PESA in Africa currently has nearly 20 million active customers and there are now over 160 similar services operating in more than 50 countries. In 2010, Susie was a co-winner of The Economist Innovation Award for Social an Economic Innovation for her work on M-PESA. 

Paul Markillie, Innovation Editor, The Economist
Paul Markillie is The Economist's Innovation Editor and from 2014 the Editor of Technology Quarterly.  Paul principally writes about new technologies and their implications in business. He was previously a features editor and has covered a number of business areas, including aerospace, the car industry and marketing.  He was also Asia editor and The Economist's first Asia business correspondent, based in Hong Kong. In 2012, he wrote The Economist's special report "The Third Industrial Revolution", which attracted worldwide interest.

Raghunath Anant (R.A.) Mashelkar, President, Global Research Alliance and Director General, India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research 
Deeply connected with the innovation movement in India, Dr. Mashelkar is currently the Chairman of India’s National Innovation Foundation, Reliance Innovation Council, Thermax Innovation Council and Marico Innovation Foundation and is on the Board of Directors of several reputed companies including Reliance Industries Ltd., Tata Motors Ltd., Hindustan Unilever Ltd and GeneMedix Life Sciences Ltd. He is also the third Indian engineer to have been elected (1998) as Fellow of Royal Society (FRS), London in the twentieth century.

Yoichiro Matsumoto, Professor, Dean of Engineering Faculty, University of Tokyo 
Professor Yoichiro Matsumoto graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1972 and received his doctorate in engineering in 1977. Since then he has been working at the University, where he is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Executive Vice-president. His research interest is in fluids engineering, molecular dynamics, multi-phase flows and medical application of fluids engineering.

Oliver Morton, Senior Briefings Editor, The Economist
Oliver Morton is a writer and editor who concentrates on scientific knowledge, technological change and their effects. Before his current editorial position at The Economist, he was Chief News and Features Editor at Nature, the world’s leading interdisciplinary science journal. From 1995 to 1997 he was editor in chief of Wired UK, Wired’s European sister magazine, and from 1991 to 1995 he was editor of The Economist’s Science and Technology section.


Andrew Odlyzo, Professor of Mathematics, University of Minnesota
Andrew Odlyzko has had a long career in research and research management at Bell Labs, AT&T Labs, and the University of Minnesota, where he is now a Professor in the School of Mathematics. He has written over 150 technical papers in various areas, and is currently working on topics ranging from the economics of the Internet to the dynamics of technology manias.

Lesa B Roe, Director, Langley Research Center, NASA
NASA Langley, founded in 1917, is the nation’s first civilian aeronautical research facility and NASA’s original field center and Roe is the senior management official of the Center, employing over 3,600 civil service and contractor personnel. She is responsible for the Center's technical implementation of aeronautical, space and science programs, as well as the overall management of the Center’s facilities, personnel and administration. Roe’s honors include the Senior Executive Service Presidential Rank Award, NASA Exceptional Service Medal and Distinguished Career Achievement Award from the University of Florida. 

Juliana Rotich, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ushahidi Inc
Juliana Rotich is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Ushahidi Inc, a non-profit tech company, born in Africa, which specializes in developing free and open source software for information collection, interactive mapping and data curation.  Ushahidi builds tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories. Through, and accompanying mobile applications, Ushahidi is expanding its global footprint and making crowdsourcing tools available and useful, and catalyzing entrepreneurial initiatives like iHub in Kenya. 


Youssef Salah, Deputy Head, Information and Communication Technology Sector, Bibliotheca Alexandrina
A computer engineer by training, Youssef Salah currently serves as Deputy Head at the Information and Communications Techonology Sector, Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA). He joined BA in 2011, and currently oversees the ICT strategy including the implementation of the digital library initiatives aiming at digital preservation as well as computing clusters and the 3D virtual immersive data analysis. 


Jerry Simmons, Director, Energy Frontier Research, Sandia National Laboratories 
Dr Jerry Simmons is director of the Energy Frontier Research Center for Solid-State Lighting Science at Sandia National Laboratories, where he also serves as programme co-ordinator for Sandia’s DOE/Basic Energy Sciences research in materials. Dr Simmons’s technical interests include quantum electronic phenomena, novel optoelectronic devices, and high-efficiency solar photovoltaics.

Kanwal Singh, Co-founder and Senior Managing Director, Helion​
Kanwal Singh is a co-founder and Senior Managing Director of Helion and has over 26 years of experience in the areas of venture investing, marketing and business development across multiple sectors in India. In addition to his role at Helion, he serves on the boards of Qwikcilver, Yepme, Mast Kalandar, Lifecell, Hurix, Fashionara and Humming Bird.



Ning (Tina) Tao, COO and Partner, Innovation Works
Tina Tao serves as a COO (and Partner) of Innovation Works, leading all daily operations and all the professional services teams at Innovation Works. Prior to Innovation Works, Ms. Tao had worked for years at the headquarters of, in succession, Microsoft, IBM and Google. She has held leadership roles in product management, marketing, strategy and operations. Under her leadership, her various teams launched more than 20 new products in total, in China and in Asia Pacific, created new sales models for software and hardware with sales teams in excess of 100 persons, designed creative software investment models for the China market, and operated sales teams with hundreds of millions in revenue. At Google China, Ms. Tao worked as Chief of Staff, together with Dr. Lee. Ms. Tao holds a B.A. and M.A. in Information Management from Peking University and a Masters in Business Administration from Yale University.


Tuula Teeri, President, Aalto University
Professor Tulla Teeri is an academic leader and visionary. She is the current professor at Aalto University, having been appointed in April 2009 for a five year term, as well as cofounder of SweTree Technologies. She is also a member of several Technology and Science based Academies in Sweden and Finland.

Vijay Vaitheeswaran, Global Correspondent, The Economist
Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran is an award-winning correspondent for The Economist. From 1998 to 2006 he covered the interrelated fields of energy and the environment. His current portfolio now encompasses innovation, health and biotechnology. Mr Vaitheeswaran is chairman of the Global Agenda advisory council on sustainable energy at the World Economic Forum (Davos), and an advisor on innovation to the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and teaches at NYU’s Stern Business School.

Hongyang Wang, Director, National Center for Liver Cancer, China
Dr. Wang focuses on molecular mechanisms and translational medicine of tumors, and has made significant contributions to the signaling network regulation and novel liver cancer biomarker. She is elected as a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 2005 and a fellow of TWAS in 2011. She has won the National Awards for Science and Technology Progress(Innovation Team Award) in 2013, National Natural Science Award(â…ˇ) in 2006, and Science and Technology Award of HLHL in 2004.

Huanming Yang, Director, Beijing Genomics Institute
Dr. Yang has made a significant contribution to the Human Genome Project and HapMap projects, as well as to sequencing and analysing genomes of rice, chicken, silkworm, giant panda, cucumber, and many microorganisms. Dr. Yang has received Research Leader of the Year by Scientific American in 2002 and Award in Biology by the Third World Academy of Sciences in 2006. He was elected as a foreign member of EMBO in 2006, an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2007, a fellow of TWAS in 2008, a foreign academician of Indian Academy of Sciences in 2009.

The nomination window for The Economist's Innovation Awards 2014 has closed. Thanks for your participation.



The nominations window will open on March 7th 2014 and close on April 4th 2014.


We invite YOU to nominate.


A person (not a company) whose innovation has been successful in the last decade can be nominated.

We choose winners based on:

  • How much revenue their innovation has made their company or its economic impact on a specific good cause or society in general
  • The effect their work has had on the marketplace (or if it's created a whole new marketplace altogether)
  • The impact their innovation has had on a new type of science or technology

Nominate now >>>

Innovative ideas are not limited to any one region in the world, nor do they solely emerge form large corporations with deep financial resources. Over the course of the past ten year, winners of The Economist's Innovation Awards have hailed from countries as diverse as America, Bangladesh, Britain, Canada, Finland, India, Japan and Peru.

Sometimes the recognition is awarded to a lonely researcher in a university laboratory, other times in advanced corporate R&D organisations or to entrepreneurs whose work may pose a threat to their own company's existing products. But in every case the dedicated individuals have perservered, brought their discoveries to life and had a startling impact. Three previous winners went on to win Nobel prizes for their accomplishments and others had been awarded Nobel Prizes before being recognised by The Economist

2013 winners

James Allison, Immune checkpoint blockade for treatment of cancer

Steve Furber and Sophie Wilson, The ARM processor

Chuck Hull and Bre Pettis, Pioneering and popularising 3D printing

Tim Bauer, Nathan Lorenz and Bryan Willson, Systems for improving indoor air quality in the developing world

Colin Angle, Advances in practical robotics

Salman Khan, Founder, Khan Academy

Jane Chen, Rahul Panicker, Naganand Murty and Linus Liang, Inexpensive incubator for premature babies


2012 winners

Bioscience Innovation 2012
Napoleone Ferrara of Genentech
For his work with cloning therapies leading to blood vessel formation and new drugs

No Boundaries Innovation 2012
Elon Musk of SpaceX
For his pioneering work in private space transportation

Consumer Products Innovation 2012
Gary Burrell and Min Kao of Garmin
For developing portable consumer GPS navigation devices

Process and Service Innovation 2012
Mark Benioff of
For his work with web-hosted software

Computing and Telecommunications Innovation 2012
Jack Dangermond of ESRI and John Hank of Google
For pioneering the use of geospatial data in software applications

Social and Economic Innovation 2012
Greg Allgood and Philip Souter of Proctor & Gamble
For their development of a simple water purification process

Energy and the Environment Innovation 2012
Yit Ming Chiang of MIT
For his breakthroughs in battery technology

Corporate Innovation 2012
For its skill at innovating and improving upon existing ideas and applications

2011 winners

Consumer products
Jeff Bezos and Greg Zehr

Robert Langer

Business process
Devi Shetty

Social & economic innovation
Marc Koska

Computing and telecoms
Paul Buchheit

Energy and the environment
Chetan Maini

No boundaries
Matt Flannery & Jessica Jackley

Corporate use of innovation

Anniversary award winner
Steve Jobs

2010 winners

Energy and the environment
Michael Biddle

Social & economic innovation
Nick Hughes & Susie Lonie

Business process
Peter Thiel & Max Levchin

Corporate use of innovation

Computing and telecoms
John Gioffi

Consumer products and services
Steve Jobs

Harald zur Hausen

No boundaries
Peter Diamandis

The inaugural readers award

2009 winners

Business process
Ratan Tata

J. Craig Venter

Energy and the environment
Richard Swanson

Computing and telecoms
Ray Kurzweil

Consumer products
Steve Sasson

No boundaries
Mark Zuckerberg

Social and economic
Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen

Corporate use of innovation
Reckitt Benckiser

2008 winners

Sir Martin Evans, Director of the School of Biosciences and Professor of Mammalian Genetics, Cardiff University
For his work on stem-cell research, “knockout” mice, and gene targeting.

Energy and the Environment
Arthur Rosenfeld, Commissioner, California Energy Commission
For his work as an energy efficiency pioneer.

Social and Economic
Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, Co-chairs and Trustees, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
For their development of a philanthropic support platform, including support for immunisation and literacy projects.

Computing and Telecommunications
Matti Makonen, Telecommunications Consultant, former Executive Vice-president, Sonera
For his work on Short Message Service (SMS) text messaging.

Consumer Products and Services
Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, Co-founders, YouTube
For their work developing Multi-media content sharing.

Business Process
Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia
For public collaboration as a form of product and content development.

“No Boundaries”
Sumio Iijima, Professor, Meijo University, Senior Research Fellow
NEC, for his development of carbon nanotube.

Corporate use of innovation
In recognition of its innovative culture and rapid response to new consumer trends.

2007 winners

Hermes Chan of MedMira and Abdullah Kirumira of BioMedica Diagnostics
For the development of fast HIV diagnostic testing.
It is estimated that one-third of people tested for HIV do not return for the results. Dr Chan and Dr Kirumira developed a test that produces a result in three minutes, rather than days or weeks. Both men are now developing tests for other diseases.

Computing and communications
Mike Lazaridis, founder of Research in Motion
For the development of the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device.
Mr Lazaridis had the original idea for the BlackBerry in his basement, and the first device, with its distinctive miniature keyboard, launched in 1999. There are now over 11m BlackBerry devices in use around the world.

Energy and environment
George Craford of Philips Lumileds and Roland Haitz of Hewlett-Packard
For the development of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for use in new areas.
Dr Craford and Dr Haitz have helped to move LEDs, which are far more energy efficient than conventional bulbs, into new markets such as traffic lights and domestic illumination.

Social and economic innovation
Mo Ibrahim, founder of CelTel
For the promotion of mobile phones in Africa.
Founded in 1998, CelTel grew to become Africa's second-largest mobile operator and was sold in 2005 to MTC of Kuwait for $3.4 billion. As well as boosting economic activity via mobile phones, CelTel showed that it is possible to build a multi-billion dollar African company in an industry other than oil or mining.

Business-process innovation
N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys
For pioneering India's information-technology services industry.
Under Mr Narayana Murthy's leadership, Infosys developed the idea of providing computing services from India to clients around the world, often at much lower cost, paving the way for a $40 billion industry.

Consumer products
Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo
For his leading role in shaping the video-game industry.
From the creation of “Donkey Kong” in 1981 to the establishment of the “Mario” and “Zelda” franchises in the 1980s and the current success of DS hand-held and Wii motion-sensing games consoles, Mr Miyamoto helped to bring into being, and then redefined, a new industry.

No boundaries
Stuart Parkin, Peter GrĂĽnberg and Albert Fert
For the discovery and development of the giant-magnetoresistive (GMR) effect.
Discovered independently by Dr GrĂĽnberg and Dr Fert in 1988, the GMR effect was subsequently developed for commercial use by Dr Parkin of IBM. By increasing the sensitivity of the sensors used to read data for magnetic disks, the GMR effect boosted hard-disk capacity, cutting the cost of storage and eventually making possible the first iPod.

Corporate use of innovation
Procter & Gamble
For its pioneering use of the open-innovation model in its “Connect + Develop” programme to find ideas for new products outside the company.

2006 winners

Marvin Caruthers, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder
or the development of automated DNA synthesis—the ability to “print out” arbitrary strands of genetic material.
Dr Caruthers's methods were licensed to Applied Biosystems, which subsequently became one of the largest life-science instrument companies in the world.
Automated DNA synthesis has been essential in such fields as chromosome mapping, genomic sequencing and the study of interactions between DNA,
RNA and proteins.

Computing and communications
Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström of Skype
For the development of internet file-sharing and telephony using peer-to-peer technology, which allows millions of computers to link up over the internet without central co-ordination.
In 2000 Messrs Friis and Zennström launched KaZaA, which became the dominant means of sharing music and video files, despite attempts by the entertainment industry to shut it down. Skype, launched in 2003, lets users make free phone calls over the internet, forcing traditional telecoms operators to slash their prices.

Energy and environment
Johannes Poulsen, former chief executive, Vestas Wind Systems
For the commercialisation of wind energy.
In 1987 Mr Poulsen took the helm at Vestas, then a small Danish firm with 60 employees. By the time he retired in 2002, Vestas had 5,000 employees and a quarter of the world market for wind turbines. Under Mr Poulsen, Vestas greatly improved the efficiency of wind turbines, reducing costs and making wind power more competitive.

No boundaries
Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of eBay
For the development of electronic marketplace technology and his promotion of access to markets as a tool for social change.
Mr Omidyar set up eBay in 1995 with the aim of creating a marketplace accessible to any internet user. The business was profitable by 1996. People all over the world buy and sell items in 45,000 categories; some even make a living trading on eBay.

Social and economic innovation
Hernando de Soto, founder and president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy
For the promotion of property rights and economic development.
Mr de Soto argues that bureaucracy and the lack of formal property rights are major causes of poverty in developing countries. Red tape and the lack of legal title to property, preventing its use as collateral, make it hard for the poor to establish or expand businesses. While serving as economic adviser to the Peruvian government, Mr de Soto initiated a property-titling scheme which helped 1.2m families. Similar reforms have been implemented in El Salvador, Haiti, Tanzania and Egypt. Mr de Soto has also championed the use of league tables to shame governments into cutting red tape.

Business-process innovation
Sam Pitroda, chief executive of WorldTel
For pioneering India's communications revolution.
In 1987 Mr Pitroda was asked by Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian prime minister, to help democratise access to telecommunications. His response was to deploy instantly recognisable yellow telephone kiosks in every town and village. This helped to release India's telecoms industry from state control and opened it up to private firms, paving the way for a technology boom. He now promotes similar policies in other countries.

Consumer products
Nicolas Hayek, chairman of Swatch
For revitalising the Swiss watch industry.
During the 1980s Switzerland's legendary watch industry fell into decline, with exports falling by half within a decade as a result of Japanese competition. Mr Hayek's response was to consolidate the industry to create the Swatch Group. It went on to beat the Japanese at their own game, creating the bestselling watch brand in history and becoming the largest watchmaker in the world, with a quarter of the market.

2005 winners

Herbert Boyer, co-founder and director of Genentech, and Stanley Cohen, professor of genetics and medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine
For developing recombinant DNA technology.
This is the fundamental innovation that allows genetic material from two sources to be combined, making possible the use of bacteria as drug factories and the genetic engineering of plants and animals. The two men had the idea while eating pastrami and corned-beef sandwiches when attending a conference in Hawaii.

Computing and communications
Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of Google
For the commercialisation of search technology.
Few companies become so integrated into everyday life that their names become verbs, and none has done so as quickly as Google, which combined a superior method of ranking search results with an advertising-based business model to pay the bills. The firm is widely seen as the new Microsoft—which is both an accolade and a warning.

Energy and the environment
Stanford Ovshinsky, president and chief scientist and technologist, Energy Conversion Devices
For developing the nickel-metal-hydride battery
This is the battery technology found in hybrid cars, laptop computers and many other devices, and is just one of the many innovations devised by Mr Ovshinsky, a self-taught inventor who pioneered the field of amorphous materials in the 1950s.

Social and economic innovation
Victoria Hale, chairman and chief executive, Institute for OneWorld Health
For her work promoting the development of pharmaceuticals for the developing world
In 2000, Dr Hale founded the non-profit pharmaceutical company to develop treatments for “orphan” diseases neglected by traditional drugmakers. OneWorld develops drugs based on donated or royalty-free intellectual property, and is in final-stage testing of a promising new therapy to cure visceral leishmaniasis in India.

Business-process innovation
Alpheus Bingham, chairman, InnoCentive
For his work developing a web-based problem-solving community.
InnoCentive is an online forum that brings “solution seekers”, who post descriptions of technical problems they need to solve, together with “problem solvers” who try to solve them in order to win an associated bounty. Around $1.6m in potential rewards are currently listed on the website, which is used by over 80,000 researchers.

Consumer product
The iPod team at Apple for the development of the iPod digital-music player.
When Apple launched the iPod in October 2001, it was widely derided. Who would buy such an expensive device, and why did Apple think it could take on Sony? But Apple had the last laugh. The iPod became an iconic product, and Apple has stayed ahead of its rivals with further innovations such as the iTunes Music Store, the click wheel and video iPod.

No boundaries
Fujio Masuoka, professor, Tohoku University
For the invention of flash memory.
In 1984, Dr Masuoka invented the low-cost, low-power, non-volatile storage technology that can today be found inside mobile phones, music players and many other devices. He is now suing Toshiba, his employer at the time, for $9m, which he believes is his fair share of the $180m the firm has earned from his work.

2004 winners

David Goeddel, chief executive of Tularik
For gene cloning and the expression of human proteins.
In 1978, Dr Goeddel went to work at Genentech as its staff scientist—making him the first employee of the first biotech firm. His pioneering work in the field of gene cloning and expression research made it possible to produce insulin in the laboratory for the first time, and led to the first drug produced using recombinant DNA technology. He is now chief executive officer of Tularik, a firm he co-founded.

Vic Hayes, former chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 working group
For the development and standardisation of Wi-Fi wireless networks.
Considered the father of Wi-Fi, Mr Hayes chaired the IEEE 802.11 committee, which was set up in 1990 to establish a wireless networking standard. Wi-Fi now enables wireless connectivity in millions of homes, schools and offices, and an increasing number of hotels and airports.

Linus Torvalds, Open Source Development Labs fellow
For the development of the Linux operating system.
Mr Torvalds released the first version of the Linux kernel in 1991, when he was a 21-year-old computer-science student at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He made the source code behind Linux freely available so that others could modify it to suit their needs, or contribute their own improvements. Linux now runs on millions of devices from handhelds to mainframes, and has attracted wide industry support.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, senior managing director, Toyota
For developing the Prius hybrid car
In 1994, Mr Uchiyamada joined Toyota's project to develop an eco-friendly car for the 21st century. He became chief engineer for the Prius, the world's first mass-produced petrol-electric hybrid car, in 1996. Given a free hand in the design, his team developed a continuously variable transmission system that allows the petrol engine and electric motor to work separately or in tandem. The hybrid design improves fuel efficiency and dramatically cuts emissions. By 2003, Prius sales had topped 150,000 units worldwide.

No boundaries
Gerd Binnig, Heinrich Rohrer and Christoph Gerber, researchers at IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory
For the development of the scanning-tunnelling microscope (STM).
In 1981 Dr Binnig, Dr Rohrer and Dr Gerber developed the STM, a device that made it possible to image and study structures and processes on the atomic scale and in three dimensions (see article). The STM, which now exists in dozens of variants, is a vital research tool in such fields as materials science, nanotechnology and microbiology. In 1986, Dr Binnig and Dr Rohrer shared half of the Nobel prize in physics for their work in developing the STM.

Social and economic innovation
Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank
For the development of microcredit.
Dr Yunus is the managing director of Grameen Bank, whose 1,300 branches serve more than 3.5m people in 46,000 villages in Bangladesh. He devised the concept of rural microcredit, the practice of making small loans to individuals without collateral. Typical customers are women who borrow $30 to start a small business by, for example, buying a sewing machine. Grameen's repayment rate is 98%. The microcredit model has been emulated in 50 countries around the world, including America.

2003 winners

Raymond Damadian, president and chairman of FONAR.
Dr Damadian first proposed the idea of using the principle of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) as an “external probe for the detection of internal cancer”. In 1970, he found that cancerous tissues could be distinguished from healthy tissues using NMR. He went on to build the first prototype for a whole-body magnetic resonance scanner and produced the first image of a human chest on July 3rd 1977. Now in widespread use, magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) technology has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. The question of who most deserves the credit for its invention, however, remains controversial (see article).
FONAR introduced the Stand-Up™ MRI, the world’s only whole-body MRI scanner with the ability to scan patients standing, sitting, bending or lying down.

Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium.
In 1989, Mr Berners-Lee proposed a scheme to enable electronic documents to link to other documents stored on other computers. This idea, which later grew into the world wide web, started out as a program called Enquire, which Mr Berners-Lee wrote for his own use while working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. He went on to write the first web browser and web server, both of which he gave away on the internet, along with details of the protocols to describe and transmit web pages.

Berners-Lee is the 3Com Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Paul Baran
In 1959, Dr Baran began to think about ways to make America's communications infrastructure resistant to a nuclear attack. He proposed using a system called “distributed adaptive message block switching”, known today as packet switching. This involves breaking digital information into small chunks, or packets, and sending them separately over the network, thus doing away with centralised switching centres and enabling the network to work even when partly destroyed. His
idea was initially ignored and was only given its first proper test in 1969, when it was used as the basis for ARPANET, an experimental computer network that later grew into the internet. Baran, co-founder of the Institute for the Future, died in 2011.

Geoffrey Ballard
In the late 1970s, Dr Ballard began research into fuel cells as a means of addressing the problem of smog in large cities. Fuel cells combine stored hydrogen with oxygen from the air to generate electricity, water vapour and no harmful emissions. Modern fuel cells are expected to power a new breed of electric vehicles, by overcoming the cost, size and weight limitations of batteries. In 1979 Dr Ballard co-founded Ballard Power Systems to develop, commercialise and market fuel cells. The firm built partnerships with companies including DaimlerChrysler and Ford, and supplied fuel cells to Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Volkswagen. After leaving full-time management at Ballard Power Systems, in 2000 Dr Ballard formed General Hydrogen,which worked on the problems of generating and distributing hydrogen. Dr Ballard died in 2008.

No Boundaries
Ronald Coase, professor emeritus of economics, University of Chicago Law School.
In papers published in 1959 and 1960, Dr Coase asked why valuable radio spectrum was going to waste. He suggested that the problem was the lack of private property rights over spectrum, which prevented the formation of a market to allocate spectrum efficiently. The answer, he proposed, was to open the allocation of radio spectrum to market forces. His proposal was derided, but radio spectrum is now routinely allocated by auction, and his idea helped to create novel markets in other fields, such as tradeable emissions permits to limit pollution. For his discovery and clarification of the significance of transaction costs and property rights for the institutional structure and functioning of the economy, Dr Coase received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1991. He celebrated his 101st birthday in 2011  and continues to conduct research.

2002 winners

Nanotechnology, folded into "No Boundaries" in 2003.
Stephen Fodor, the founder of Affymetrix
For the development of the gene chip.
While head of research at a start-up pharmaceutical company called Affymax Technologies, based in the Netherlands, Steve Fodor and his teamed discovered a way to use photolithography to direct the synthesis of biochemical compounds on tiny silicia-based chips that are primed with light-sensitive molecules. The technology was spun out and commercialized by a company he co-founded called Affymetrix. The company is able to synthesize huge numbers of DNA molecules very rapidly on the surface of a microchip with an area of approximately one centimeter square. Affymetrix's GeneChip products enable the detection and characterization of large amounts of genetic information, and researchers and doctors can perform tests more cheaply than traditional laboratory analysis. The GeneChip already has led to the discovery of a new form of leukemia. Fodor was awarded the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities Award for outstanding contributions to Biomolecular Technologies in 2005, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2009. He remains Chairman of Affymetrix.

James Gosling, currently with Sun Microsystems
For his work on the development of the Java programming language
In December 1990, Patrick Naughton, Mike Sheridan and James Gosling started the "Green Project" while at Sun Microsystems. Its purpose was to produce operating system software for the consumer electronics industry. In 1991, the project team designed and wrote a new language, that was initially called "OAK" but renamed Java four years later. With the emergence of the World Wide Web, Java became popular because of the ability of any Java application to be delivered over the Internet or any network, without regard to operating system or hardware platform. Today, the Java platform is being built into next-generation telephones, TV set-top boxes, smart cards, and many other consumer and business devices. Gosling is known as the "father" of the Java programming language because he created the original design of the language and implemented its original compiler and virtual machine. Currently, Gosling is Chief Software Architect at Liquid Robotics, an ocean data services provider and developer of the Wave Glider, the world’s first wave-powered, autonomous marine robot.

Leroy Hood, currently of the Institute for Systems Biology
For his work on Human Genome Mapping.
Leroy Hood was a driver in the successful mapping of the human genome during the 1990s. The process originally was predicted to require up to 100 years to complete. Dr. Hood's success in developing automated instruments for the synthesis and determination of protein and DNA sequences allowed scientists to understand amino acid sequences. In 1980, Hood developed an automatic peptide sequencer that was 100 times more sensitive than previous instruments, dramatically reducing the time required for amino acid sequencing. That was followed by the world's first automated fluorescence DNA sequencer in 1986. In 1996, Hood published "A New Strategy for Genome Sequencing." A pillar in the biotechnology field, Hood has played a role in founding more than 14 biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Darwin, The Accelerator and Integrated Diagnostics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, one of only 10 people in the world to be elected to all three academies. He currently is President of the Institute for Systems Biology, a company he cofounded.

Irwin Jacobs, the chairman of Qualcomm
For the commercialization of CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) used in third-generation wireless devices.
Irwin Jacobs took the spread-spectrum concept – a technique for sending signals using a pseudo-random sequence that was developed during the second world war – and turned it into a practical means for digital communication. Jacobs became the co-founder, chairman and chief executive of Qualcomm of San Diego to commercialize that concept. Today, the technology known as code division multiple access is the fastest growing form of third-generation digital wireless communications, already used by tens of millions of consumers around the world and licensed to more than 100 companies. Jacobs, who taught electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and computer science at the University of California, San Diego, personally holds a number of Qualcomm's portfolio of some 1,500 patents. Jacobs is founding chairman and CEO Emeritus for Qualcomm and served as CEO through 2005 and Chairman through 2009. He is the recipient of numerous industry, education and business awards including The National Medal of Technology Award, 1994, the highest award bestowed by the president of the United States, for extraordinary achievements in the commercialization of technology.

No Boundaries
Shuji Nakamura, currently a professor at the University of California - Santa Barbara
For the development of the blue-violet laser.
Working virtually alone at a tiny company in a remote part of Japan, Shuji Nakamura developed the first commercially available blue and violet semiconductor lasers using gallium nitride technology. That effort amounts to one of the most important leaps forward in solid-state laser technology because the wavelength of blue light is about half that of infrared semiconductor lasers that had typically been found in most CD players and laser printers. Blue lasers mean that manufacturers and consumer can triple or quadruple the amount of data that can be put on a CD or enjoy a similarly greater increase in the resolution of a laser printer. Nine consumer electronics manufacturers later announced agreement on standards for a new recordable DVD format with a six-fold increase over current storage capacity. That new standard is based on Nakamura's blue laser technology. Nakamura left his company, Nichia Chemicals in 2000 and now is a Professor of Materials and Director of the Solid State Lighting and Display Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Nakamura continues to focus on development of GaN thin film technology for use as substrates in GaN-based devices such as LEDs, high brightness lasers and high-frequency, high-power transistors.

Energy and the Environment
Rinaldo Rinolfi, currently with Fiat Research
For the commercialization of the common-rail manifold, now used throughout Europe to create non-polluting, relatively quiet diesel passenger car engines.
Diesel engines always have been more fuel-efficient than those that burned petrol. But what prevented them from being used more widely was the noise and pollution they produced – caused by the way the diesel in car engines could not be burned at a steady rate. The common rail induction system, developed by a team led by Rinaldo Rinolfi at Fiat subsidiary Marelli Auto, solved the problem by using a high-pressure pump to feed fuel into a manifold (or rail), allowing the injection pressure to remain steady no matter how fast or slow the car was moving. As a result, the temperature within the cylinders remains hot enough to burn the diesel fuel thoroughly, reducing both the engine noise and its noxious emissions. As a result, some of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market today are not electric hybrids, but diesels. Rinolfi was head of Fiat Strategic Projects for the development of the diesel common rail system, which Fiat sold to Bosch in 1994. He recently retired as a vice president of Fiat.


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