Issue #15                                                                                                         July 5, 2011


Welcome to Edison Universe

Fostering Future Innovators


Where do great ideas come from?  How do great innovators see opportunity creation as a higher calling than mere problem solving?  How are big innovations conceived - not just achieved?  How can one learn to be more creative and innovative?  How can we teach these critical skills?

 Edison Universe Logo

Our education system has traditionally stressed inquiry-based problem solving over the fundamentals of inception, invention and implementation - those aspects of the process that are visible, tangible, easily taught and predictably tested. 


Enter Edison Universe, a new sister organization to the Edison Awards.  While the Edison Awards recognize innovation and creativity by leveraging the deeply respected heritage of Thomas Alva Edison, Edison Universe is designed to take on a new mission:  To establish new programs, curricula, events and conferences that support, nurture and foster future innovators and innovation.


"It's not all about invention, innovation and achievement. It's also about education,

inspiration and perspiration."


At the helm of Edison Universe is Tom Stat, a former senior executive at IDEO (see below), who believes very strongly that there is a critical gap in K-12 learning, a gap he calls "innovation competency." 


"Edison Universe will be developing assets, tools and experiences that initially focus on the critical grades of 4-7, where students often begin to lose the creativity, curiosity and playful imaginations elemental to all great innovators," said Stat.  "Rather than ignore or merely supplement science, technology, engineering and math skills, we intend to tightly integrate and leverage these disciplines in a more holistic, meaningful and actionable way."


"Edison Universe will provide unique value and opportunity to its stakeholders, including students, teachers, and our partner organizations, all of whom are eager to get involved, " Stat continued. "I'm passionate about filling the critical innovation competency gap, and I look forward to collaborating with all of our stakeholders to make it happen."  Contact Tom at with your comments, questions or ideas.

Want to Give Back?

We Invite You to Get Involved 


Together with our Partners, USA Today and Discovery Education, we at the Edison Universe are looking for a few visionary companies to join this important initiative as co-creators, collaborators, sponsors, champions and benefactors.  Beyond the resources of time and money, we are looking for committed partners who have a keen interest in education, a passionate interest in innovation and an obsessive concern for the future. A number of opportunities we would like you to support include:


Innovation Learning Lab - part mobile learning center, immersive prototyping laboratory, part story-telling vehicle, part artifact museum focused on the history AND future story of curiosity, discovery and achievement.


Young Edison - Edison's innovations are attributed to a middle aged or older Edison, yet his biggest successes came before the age of 40. This is that story.


The Innovation Box - a discovery, prototyping exercise, and inspirational tool which leverages play, investigation, invention and innovation methodologies with a kind of "Apollo 13" urgency.


"Genesis of Next" - the story of discovery and innovation - a film, TV series and/or series of learning modules focused on where great ideas and sustainable innovations come from...on how people really create and innovate, not merely on how they implement ideas.


Innovation Internships - the "field trip" reimagined, repurposed and redefined as an engaging, interactive, virtual or physical work experience and collaboration.


Redefining the Classroom - a lecture series, program or conference at the intersection of technology, teaching and learning for administrators, teachers, parents, students and business.


Innovation's core competencies - from collaboration and empathy abilities, to pattern recognition, prototyping and ideation skills, this new innovation curriculum identifies new competencies and ways they can be taught, learned and assessed.


If you or your company are interested to partner with us to bring these ideas to fruition, we would love to hear from you.  Please contact Tom Stat or Frank Bonafilia (Edison Awards' executive diirector) for more information about how you can be a part of this exciting new direction.

Say Hello to Tom Stat

 Tom Stat

The name Tom Stat may not be familiar to you -- not yet, anyway.  But you'll surely be hearing about him (or possibly even from him) in the coming months.  


Tom is active in the world of innovation and design thinking as a senior consultant, thought leader, teacher, writer, speaker and company board member. 


Tom Stat is the Executive Director of the Edison Universe, a new, non-profit organization, designed to be a sister to the Edison Awards. At the same time, he's also taken on the concurrent responsibilities of chairperson and chief spokesperson for the Edison Awards, which will be celebrating its 25th year in 2012.


Prior to transitioning out of his active role with the firm earlier this year, Tom was a member of the senior leadership team at IDEO, considered by many to be the world's most influential design and innovation consultancy. At IDEO, he contributed to a wide variety of innovation consulting engagements, managed a number of key client relationships and helped to direct business development efforts across all IDEO practice areas.  Tom was involved in a wide range of innovation initiatives for IDEO clients including Motorola, Chrysler, 3M, Starbucks, Eli Lilly, McDonalds, American Express, American Greetings, W.W. Grainger, Walgreens, AT&T and Bayer, to name but a few. 


"I wanted to have time to focus on some of my personal passions and other professional interests," said Tom.  "My involvement with the Edison Awards as a member of its Steering Committee over the past few years has allowed me to see its success and growth first-hand, and I'm excited to help build the Edison Awards brand and reach AND be at the helm of building the new Edison Universe," he continued.


In addition to spending his several days a week on EA and EU business, Tom is a frequent lecturer at Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering, The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, The University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business, DePaul University's Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, and at a variety of global industry and company-sponsored conferences. He is on faculty with Northwestern University's nationally recognized and award winning program called "NUvention" which brings medical, law, engineering and business graduate students together to identify, design and develop medical, health and wellness innovations. He also holds a number of key board positions with Chicago-based organizations.


"We're delighted that Tom has made the decision to lend his considerable energy and intellect in such a major way to the Edison Awards," says Edison Awards' executive director Frank Bonafilia.  "Tom has an incredible mind and he never stops thinking about ways to stimulate innovation, and the new Edison Universe will be the perfect springboard for Edison Award-winning companies to give back by fostering future innovators at the K-12 level."

About the Edison Awards

The Edison Awards™ recognize the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Edison and his tremendous legacy. Be sure to visit our website for more information, including award categories, nomination criteria, and a list of past winners.

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Also in this Issue
Want to Give Back?
Say Hello to Tom Stat
About the Edison Awards
Are YOU an Innovator?

"We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.  We have to make America the best place on earth to do business." 


President Obama's

State of the Union Address

January, 2011

Are YOU an Innovator?

GOLD 2011It's not too early to start thinking about the 2012 Edison Awards.  


Nominations for Edison Best New Product Awards will open on September 1st.  


Edison Award-winning status can give a substantial boost to introducing your new product or service into your marketplace.  Make sure you're on our list so you can be among the first to submit a nomination. Contact Inge Calderon to subscribe.

What People Are Saying


"Being selected as an Edison Award winner validates our drive to develop an all-new transportation solution," said Tony Posawatz, Chevrolet Volt vehicle line director. 


"Innovation has been at the heart of the Volt from its onset; from the development of the li-ion battery to the drive unit and the driver connectivity."


 Chevy Volt

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"If I have spurred men to greater efforts, and if our work has widened the horizon

of man's understanding even a little, and given a measure

of happiness in the world, I am content."


Thomas A. Edison