The Lemelson Foundation in Portland, Oregon, has announced grants totaling more than $24 million to two organizations working to recruit and support the next generation of inventors.
Four-year grants of more than $12 million each were awarded to the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) to help inventors convert their ideas into inventions that can improve lives and stimulate the economy.
The Lemelson-MIT Program will use its grant to continue providing programs and annual awards like the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, which recognizes outstanding mid-career inventors, and InvenTeamsÔ, which engages high school students to create technological solutions to real-world problems through the application of STEM knowledge. NCIIA will use its grant to provide university faculty and student innovators with funding, training, and mentoring opportunities.
"Over the years, we've seen that student inventors are capable of creating compelling solutions to address the challenges we face in the modern world," said NCIIA executive director Phil Weilerstein. "We're harnessing the creativity of young inventors and helping them move their technologies from idea to reality. Supporting the expansion of robust innovation ecosystems and learning opportunities in higher education is critical to generating career opportunities for emerging STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduate students, commercialization returns for universities, and economic growth for the U.S. economy. Our work with the Lemelson Foundation and the work of other foundation grantees, including the Lemelson-MIT Program, enables us to engage emerging innovators and bridges that gap."