Judging Guidelines

We are looking for outstanding young technological innovators under the age of 35. 

Our intent is to recognize innovation—the development of new technology or the creative application of existing technologies to solve problems or add value. We are looking specifically for evidence that a candidate has developed a practical technology or is using technology in a unique and innovative way to create new fields or services or to solve important problems. If someone asks the question, “What is this candidate’s specific achievement?” there should be a way to answer that in one or two quick sentences that makes clear what the problem is, and how the candidate is solving that problem. 

Likewise, we are not looking for people who have simply acquired a variety of interesting degrees or experiences. There should be one specific achievement that we can point to and tell a story about; while a portfolio of published papers may provide some evidence of innovation, its presence or absence does not constitute a reason to include or exclude someone from the list. A candidate’s technology may well have roots in scientific research, but it is not the research per se that would merit recognition. However, innovative theoretical work may be honored if there is a clear path from theory to practice to impact. 

The value of the candidate’s work should be judged both in the context of his or her work environment. If a candidate is with a large research university or large company and solved an important problem, that works strongly in their favor. But the list also has room for people who might be living in more rural or economically deprived areas and are able to use technology to make an important difference in their communities. 

An ideal candidate would have strength in a number of these categories, but there is no iron-clad rule about how much weight you should give to each; it is not essential for a candidate to excel in every category. In assessing the nominees, please consider the factors below:


  • Impact: We want to reward work that will make a difference. That could mean a change in the way people live and work, or the way organizations function, or the way doctors diagnose and treat disease. The work should matter to the wider world, not just to fellow practitioners of a particular industry or technical specialty. However, if an impact on a singular field is sufficiently large that it may translate to a difference for the world at large, that’s important. 
  • Ingenuity: Think of this as a measure of how brilliant the nominee’s work is. Has he or she solved an important problem in a particularly creative or elegant way? Top innovators will often display a quirky imagination and an ability to see problems and solutions in a way that no one else has; they will also tend to bring multiple areas of technology to bear on a problem.
  • Daring: Top innovators should have the grit to pursue an idea that the establishment says is foolish. We value this dismissal of risks attribute even though we recognize that it probably means the person has some failure on his or her record. “Failure” is an inevitable byproduct of pushing the envelope. We like envelope-pushers.
  • Timeliness: We want to recognize innovators for work they are doing in the same year, not for accomplishments they might have made over a year ago. 


  • Entrepreneurial accomplishment: Often, the best way to turn a laboratory development into a real product or service is to start a company. While this is not the only pathway for innovators to follow, entrepreneurship testifies to the nominee’s passion to turn ideas into a commercially viable company or organization. 
  • Communications skill: In the real world, ideas don’t make much difference if you can’t explain them to potential backers, customers, and the public. Many top-notch innovators have the ability to convince skeptics that their wacky idea is brilliant.


  • We are very interested in honoring young innovators who are working to bring the fruits of technological advance to underprivileged communities and nations.


  1. All judges are required to sign an ethics and confidentiality statement.
  2. Please note that the ages in the database are not accurate; they were entered by nominators, who often guess at the candidate’s age. We have verified the age-eligibility of each nominee. 
  3. You may encounter multiple nominees from the same company or research group. In every case, including that of cofounders, please consider the contributions of each nominee separately according to the guidelines above. We may choose to honor multiple cofounders or just one, according to their individual merits.
  4. While you may certainly take the reputation of a nominator into account as a positive factor in assessing a nominee, please do not “grade down” a nominee for having been nominated by a PR rep or a PIO—we actually actively reach out to these folks to increase our nominee pool. 
  5. Pay close attention to the letters or reference. They will tell you a lot about a candidate.
  6. If you feel a candidate is taking credit for advances where he or she was really just part of a larger team, take that into consideration. 
  7. There will be processes and quality audits and check-ins throughout the competition timeline.

Finally: Thank you again for helping us out! 

Can you answer positively to the following questions:

  1. Is the application 100% complete?
  2. Can you define in one sentence, what the problem is that the candidate is solving?
  3. Can you define in one sentence how the candidate is solving that problem?
  4. Is the idea/technology new/interesting/fresh?
  5. Is the applicant currently working on innovation?
  6. Is innovation relevant/relevant?
  7. Does it impact society as a whole?

Total:       /7