Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2010 Technology Innovation Awards

The Wall Street Journal
Among the winners: computer screens that can bend, adjustable eyeglasses, a low-cost genetic test, an online marketplace for receivables and a new way to battle malware
The world is still dealing with the effects of a severe economic crisis. But judging from the results of this year's Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards, there's no crisis in tech innovation.

The Journal's independent panel of judges decided to give out awards to 49 entries this year, equal to the previous record in 2006. More than a quarter of them are from outside the U.S.

"An economic downturn simply couldn't constrain the awesome innovation energy that exists around the world," says Scott D. Anthony, managing director of Innosight Ventures and one of the judges of the awards. "It gives one a lot of hope for the future."

At the top of the list this year was Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute, or ITRI, which won the Gold award for its work in developing high-quality displays made from materials that can be bent or folded. Zoom Focus Eyewear LLC took the Silver award for its TruFocal eyeglasses, which allow the wearer to manually adjust the focus, depending on whether he or she needs to see something close up or at a distance. And the Bronze award went to Counsyl Inc., for a low-cost test that covers more than 100 genetic disorders.

This year—the awards' 10th—the Journal received 597 applications from companies, organizations and individuals in 30 countries. Journal editors reviewed the entries and forwarded about 275 to a panel of judges from research institutions, venture-capital firms and other companies. From that pool, the judges chose 49 for awards.

The judges assessed the applications on three criteria:

—Does the innovation break with conventional ideas or processes in its field?

—Does it go beyond marginal improvements on something that already exists?

—Will it have a wide impact on future technology in its field or in other fields?

As you'll see in our report, we cover a lot of ground in 17 categories, from computing systems to wireless. Yes, there are some gadgets, as one might expect in a technology contest. But there are also innovations that will improve the quality of life for many people around the world, such as MIT Mobility Lab's wheelchair that can travel on practically any terrain. Or the environmental innovations that promise cleaner air and water.

As Mr. Anthony says: "A number of the applicants have the potential to literally change the world."