Think you got what it takes to win an Edison Award?

The Edison Awards Steering Committee threw open nominations for this year’s contest, looking for the most innovative products of 2010. The deadline is Dec. 10. Finalists are announced in February, with the Awards presented at a gala function in New York City on April 5, 2011.

Make sure to read the Eligibility Guidelines.

All entries will be judged on the following Edison Best New Product Award criteria:

  • Societal Impact: The product improves the consumer’s lifestyle and/or increases the consumer’s freedom of choice while supporting 21st Century sustainability objectives and environmental responsibility.
  • Marketplace Innovation: The strategy and positioning of the product’s introduction was innovative, and traditional marketing techniques (such as advertising, sales promotions) were used in creative ways that introduced the new product to consumers.
  • Marketplace Success: The product shows signs of cash register success and staying power.
  • Technological Innovation: The product or service is on the cutting edge of new technology.
  • Market Structure Innovation: The product pioneers a new market or restructures an existing market by creating a new segment or dominating an existing one.

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Edison Best New Product Award categories include:

  • Consumer Packaged Goods

Edison believed products should be easy to buy, and priced in a way that multiple audiences could enjoy them. Edison marketed several types of phonographs ranging from super-premium to bare bones lines, ensuring that Edison records could be enjoyed by millions. He worked with concessionaires and created licensing arrangements to ensure broad distribution for all his Edison-branded products, ranging from motion pictures to batteries.

  • Electronics and Computers

In addition to his extraordinary accomplishments in applied science, Thomas Edison is credited with several basic science breakthroughs. One in particular, called “The Edison Effect,” came about as Edison was undertaking experiments on the early incandescent electric light. He noted that carbon from the filaments he used was being deposited in a particular pattern on the inside of several glass light bulbs. Edison’s work demonstrated how a stream of these deposits could be manipulated and caused to follow specific paths. “The Edison Effect” became the underlying discovery leading to the invention of the vacuum tube, giving birth to the modern Electronics and Computer industries.

  • Energy and Sustainability

Thomas Edison’s invention of the incandescent electric light transformed the world of commerce as we know it, enabling workers to labor – and generate revenue – beyond daylight hours. But Edison was also a major proponent of energy conservation, and espoused the use of carbon-free energy forms as early as 1905 – when he invented the world’s first storage battery. He said, “I’d put money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

  • Media and Visual Communications

Thomas Edison vaulted ahead of his competitors not only through his innovative products, but through his ability to creatively communicate their benefits to customers. Edison used a combination of advertising, product demonstration, direct mail, and Public Relations in his marketing mix, creating a global megabrand in an era dominated by the telephone and telegraph.

  • Science and Medical

In a radical statement for his day, Thomas Edison believed that physicians of the future would focus on wellness and preventive care rather than disease alone. He stated, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human body, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

  • Health and Wellness

Thomas Edison believed that innovation was fundamentally a social force. He felt it permeated all aspects of our lives and our society. His view of innovation as a force for positive change fundamentally shaped his sense of purpose: “…bringing out the secrets of nature and applying them for the happiness of man. I know of no better service to render during the short time we are in this world.”

  • Industrial Design

Thomas Edison believed that innovation included not only the world of technology but the world of design. He was very focused on creating products that worked with the way people lived. Many of Edison’s original phonographs, movie projectors, and Dictaphones are pleasing even to the contemporary eye because they were designed for high functionality, high quality, and lifestyle integration.

  • Living, Working and Learning Environments

Thomas Edison not only developed a systematic approach to innovation, he designed interior spaces and work environments that were conducive to fostering innovation. His Menlo Park and West Orange Laboratories offered unique interactive spaces as well as areas for solitude. The culture of innovation in Edison’s workplaces was palpable to visitors and employees alike. Edison also designed innovative living spaces. Most notably, he developed a system for pouring entire two-story homes from concrete, offering low cost shelter for families.

  • Applied Technology

Little did Thomas Edison know that, upon the completion of his Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory in 1876, he would invent the process we know today as Research and Development. At Menlo Park – and later at West Orange – Edison used a systematic process of innovation to churn out new-to-the-world technologies, including the world’s first phonograph, the incandescent electric light, the system of electrical power, motion pictures, and the alkaline storage battery. These technologies transformed the lives of virtually every individual in the developed world from the 1870’s to the 21st century.

  • Transportation

One of Edison’s most profitable but little known inventions was the Electric Railway. Edison pioneered railroad electrification in 1880 when he built a prototype electric railway at Menlo Park running about one-third of a mile. Edison powered a small electric locomotive using a dynamo generator functioning as a motor, with current supplied from a generating station in back of the laboratory. These systems were eventually expanded, then patented and sold. Importantly, Edison’s storage battery (1905) was also used to power Model T automobiles and municipal vehicles nationwide.

  • New Retail Frontiers
  • Innovative Services

Throughout 2010, the Edison Best New Product Award Steering Committee monitors the development and successful launch and marketing of innovative products and services.

These awards are granted under the aegis of the Thomas Edison Papers at Rutgers University, a globally recognized research network dedicated to the study of innovation and its application in the 21st Century.

A panel of more than 2,500 senior business executives and academics from across the nation vote on products and services that focus on excellence in marketplace innovation, market structure innovation, technological innovation, sustainability, and societal impact.