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Dean Kamen and FIRST® LEGO® League Seek Kid Inventors Globally

Monday, January 31, 2011

Manchester, NH -- FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen, announced today that FIRST ® LEGO® League (FLL®) teams across the globe can compete for the chance to win a cash award and recognition toward patenting a proposed invention in the newly created FLL Global Innovation Award. The award, which provides FLL teams an opportunity to submit ideas stemming from their current season’s FLL Challenge, will first be ranked online by public vote and later judged by an expert panel to determine the winning idea.

One winning team will be granted a cash award of up to $20,000 presented by the X PRIZE Foundation, and the top three teams will be invited to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) just outside of Washington, D.C. to present to a panel and to participate in an awards ceremony.

“Creative ideas may be tricky to engineer, and even trickier to accept, but they are the only type that can solve the difficult technological problems of the future,” said Kamen, adding, “The new FLL Global Innovation Award will help kids all over the world understand the importance of creative problem-solving, which is a skillset we desperately need for issues we haven’t even begun to see. Now, with the help of the X PRIZE Foundation and the USPTO, these kids have the chance to turn their ideas into reality.”

The Global Innovation Award competition is open to global FLL teams officially registered for the current competition season. Deadline for submissions is March 4, 2011, at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The general public is invited to visit the Global Innovation Awardwebsite at to vote.

“The X PRIZE Foundation exists to foster innovation through competition, so teaming up with FIRST LEGO League to present the FLL Global Innovation Award is a natural synthesis,” said Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. “We look forward to seeing the extraordinary ideas that are developed and refined through the competition. We are proud to help the winning team bring their ideas one step closer to reality.”

The X PRIZE Foundation is a non-profit organization that prides itself on solving world problems through the creation and management of large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development.

“At the USPTO, we feel it is important to inspire the next generation of inventors and innovators, as well as educate them on the importance of intellectual property protection,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “As the nation’s innovation agency, we are proud to support FIRST, which helps young people experience how exciting and rewarding inventing and problem-solving can be,” he added.

The USPTO provides innovators with intellectual property protection in the form of patents and trademarks, which help these innovators secure investment capital, bring their services and products to the marketplace, and create jobs.

“A patent is a ‘deed’ to one’s invention,” said Jon Dudas, FIRST President and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, adding, “Some of our FLL teams will share that achievement of innovation with Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver, and Helen Free.”

The 2010 FLL Body Forward® Challenge, still in progress, tasks FLL teams in more than 56 countries to explore the cutting-edge world of bio-engineering and discover innovative ways to repair human injuries, overcome genetic predispositions, and maximize the body’s potential with the intended purpose of leading happier and healthier lives.

The LEGO® Group, Founding Partner of FIRST LEGO League, has supported the growth and success of FLL through ongoing funding and donations for more than ten years to help the program become a global competition for over 170,000 youth in the 2010/2011 season.

“Innovation and creativity are at the heart of what we believe,” said Jacob Kragh, President of LEGO® Education. “In order to be really good with innovation, we need to be able to work collaboratively. The Project part of the FIRST LEGO League Challenge is the perfect collaborative launching ground for the kind of innovation that is deserving of a patent.”

FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is an international program for 9 to 16 year-old children (9 to 14 in the U.S. and Canada) created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 to get children excited about science and technology – and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technologies and LEGO Education materials, children work alongside adult Coaches to design, build, and program autonomous robots and create an innovative solution to a problem as part of their research project. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Like any other organized “sport,” teams also fundraise, create a team identity, and go on field trips.

About The X PRIZE Foundation

Founded in 1995, the X PRIZE Foundation is the leading non-profit organization solving the world’s greatest challenges through creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines and socio-economic sectors to endow their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. The X PRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four Prize Groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Exploration. Past prizes include the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for sending the world’s first private vehicle into space and back; and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG or energy equivalent (MPGe). Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. For more information, visit

About the USPTO

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the Federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. In doing this, the USPTO fulfills the mandate of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, of the Constitution that the Executive branch "promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries." The USPTO registers trademarks based on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3). Under this system of protection, American industry has flourished. New products have been invented, new uses for old ones discovered, and employment opportunities created for millions of Americans. The strength and vitality of the U.S. economy depends directly on effective mechanisms that protect new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity. The continued demand for patents and trademarks underscores the ingenuity of American inventors and entrepreneurs. The USPTO is at the cutting edge of the Nation's technological progress and achievement.

About the LEGO® Group

The LEGO® Group is a privately-held firm based in Billund, Denmark. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities through high-quality, creatively educational play materials, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen: "Only the best is good enough." For more information, visit

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST®(For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and more than $14 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition(FRC®) and FIRST® Tech Challenge(FTC®) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League(FLL®) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League(Jr.FLL™) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism™ is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. The triangle, circle, square logo elements are based on an ancient scientific theory by Archimedes. To learn more about FIRST, go to

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