How the Edison Awards Work

Edison Award Program Process

As you learned in the previous section, the steering committee monitors the marketplace for potential Edison Achievement Award winners. However, to be considered for the Edison Best New Product Award or Edison Green Award, the person nominating must first submit a product or organization through the application form.

So what is involved in completing the application? The application is made available online and also involves an entry fee. The fee for the 2010 awards was $250 for entries submitted from Sept. 8, 2009, to Nov. 9, 2009, and $350 for entries submitted from Nov. 10, 2009 to Dec. 11, 2009. In addition to what you would likely already expect on the form, entrants must address two areas in their entries -- the judging criteria and how they met Thomas Edison's competencies.

First, you'll remember from the section on judging criteria and categories the five criteria used to analyze entries. This area of the application is where an entrant gets to make a case as to how the nomination fulfills these criteria.

Second, applicants must choose one from among five Edison competencies used during the applicant's process and describe this in short essay format. These competencies -- tools and traits Edison used -- were defined by Michael J. Gelb and Sarah Miller Caldicott, Edison's great-grandniece, when writing "Innovate Like Edison: The Success System of America's Greatest Inventor."

The competencies as outlined on the Edison Award application are below, followed by brief and summarized definitions from Gelb and Caldicott's book:

  • Solution-centered mindset: Being fully committed to finding a solution through multiple methods, regardless of setbacks and complexity
  • Kaleidoscopic thinking: Working effectively on many projects or problems at one time, as well as looking at a challenge from multiple points of view
  • Full-spectrum engagement: Living in the present, while moving with passion, creativity and energy throughout all of a day's tasks
  • Master-mind collaboration: Coming together with others from diverse backgrounds and joining forces in a creative, harmonious and productive environment
  • Super-value creation: Understanding of your customers' needs and fulfilling them in a more valuable way than your competitors are

[sources: Edison Awards, Gelb and Caldicott]

For applicants, completing the application and linking to the judging criteria and competencies may become a moment to pause and reflect before continuing to imagine, build and innovate like Thomas Edison. The Edison Awards are a tribute for these products and individuals. Learn more about the awards and keep up to date on the process by following the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Bonafilia, Frank, Managing Director of the Edison Awards. Personal correspondence. December 23, 2009, and December 30, 2009.
  • Bonafilia, Frank. Managing Director of the Edison Awards, Personal interview. December 21, 2009, and December 30, 2009. 
  • Edison Awards. (December 19, 2009)
  • Edison Awards. "Edison Best New Product Awards: Innovation."
  • Edison Awards. "Edison's Industries and Patents."
  • Edison Awards. "Quick Facts."
  • Edison Awards. "Steering Committee."
  • Gelb, Michael J., and Miller Caldicott, Sarah. "Innovate Like Edison: The Success System of America's Greatest Inventor." Penguin Group (USA) Inc. October 2007.
  • Innovate Like Edison. (December 28, 2009)
  • McAuliffe, Kathleen. "The Undiscovered World of Thomas Edison." The Atlantic. December 1995. (December 29, 2009)
  • National Historical Publications and Records Commission. "Edison Goes Green." NHPRC News. September 2009. (December 19, 2009)
  • The Thomas Edison Papers. "Thomas Alva Edison Biography." Rutgers. October 20, 2009. (December 19, 2009)
  • Tischler, Linda. "Ideo's David Kelley Wins Edison Award for Innovation." Fast Company. February 4, 2009. (December 19, 2009)
  • Watson, Bruce. "A Wizard's Scribe." Smithsonian magazine. August 1998. (December 19, 2009)
  • Weinberg, Joshua. "Furthering its Celebration of Curiosity and Innovation Discovery Channel and the World Renowned Edison Awards Announce Joint Partnership." December 11, 2009. (December 19, 2009)