CENTER VALLEY, Pa., Sept. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Olympus, a precision technology leader, designing and delivering imaging solutions in healthcare, life science and photography, today announced the Olympus Innovation Award Program for 2007. The national program, offered by Olympus in partnership with the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), recognizes individuals who have fostered or demonstrated innovative thinking in higher education. The awards will be given to faculty nominees chosen from among the nearly 200 member institutions of the NCIIA, a national alliance of colleges and universities fostering invention, innovation and entrepreneurship in U.S. higher education. Olympus will present the awards at the NCIIA's 11th Annual Meeting in Tampa, Fla., on March 22, 2007. "Innovation has been and increasingly will continue to be key for business success in the ever more interconnected global marketplace," stated F. Mark Gumz, president and chief operating officer of Olympus America Inc. "At Olympus, we understand the power of encouraging and rewarding curiosity to promote innovative thinking. Our awards program with the NCIIA is designed to recognize innovation in U.S. academia, which will foster the next generation of business leaders." The Olympus Innovation Award program, now in its third year, represents Olympus' ongoing commitment to technological innovation and education. The program includes three awards: the Olympus Innovation Award, the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award and the Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award. Each winner will receive a cash prize and a commemorative award. The Olympus Innovation Award recognizes a faculty member who fosters an environment of innovative thinking among students through inventive teaching methods and hands-on educational opportunities. Nominations will demonstrate how the nominees' methods and philosophies have inspired students, and will detail the resulting student innovations. The winner will receive a $10,000 award. The Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated a sustained contribution throughout his or her career to stimulating and inspiring innovative thinking in students at the home university and throughout academia. The winner will receive a $2,500 award. The Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award, whose winner will receive a $1,000 prize, recognizes an individual who has inspired innovative thinking in students in a discrete area and who, the judges believe, has the potential to make even greater contributions to the field in the future. "Since its inception, the Olympus Innovation Award program has recognized excellence in teaching methods and curricula that foster innovative thinking, and has drawn a strong group of nominees," said Phil Weilerstein, executive director, NCIIA. "We are pleased to continue our partnership with Olympus and look forward to receiving nominations for 2007." Judges for all three awards will include John Ochs, professor of mechanical engineering, Lehigh University and winner of the 2006 Olympus Innovation Award; George E. Steares, vice president emeritus, Scientific Equipment Group, Olympus America(1); Phil Weilerstein; Dr. Abigail Barrow, founding director, Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center; and Dr. Arthur A. Boni, deputy director and John R. Thorne, professor, Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, Carnegie Mellon University as well as an additional distinguished member from among the NCIIA membership. Olympus and the NCIIA are soliciting nominations for the awards beginning immediately. Students, faculty, and others at NCIIA institutions of higher learning in the U.S. may nominate qualified educators by logging in at http://www.nciia.org/login until November 16, 2006. For more information about the Olympus Innovation Award, contact the NCIIA at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.nciia.org. ABOUT OLYMPUS Olympus is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering imaging solutions in healthcare, life science and photography. Olympus works collaboratively with its customers and its parent company, Tokyo-based Olympus Corporation, to leverage R&D investment in precision technology and manufacturing processes across diverse business lines. These include: * Gastrointestinal endoscopes, accessories, and minimally invasive surgical products; * Advanced clinical and research microscopes; * Lab automation systems, chemistry-immuno and blood bank analyzers and reagents; * Digital and film cameras and digital voice recorders. In the U.S. and Canada, Olympus serves healthcare and commercial laboratory markets with integrated product solutions and financial, educational and consulting services that help customers efficiently, reliably, safely, and easily achieve superior results. Olympus is the leader in gastrointestinal endoscopy and clinical and educational microscopes. The company's consumer products business spans North and South America. For more information, visit http://www.olympusamerica.com. ABOUT NCIIA The NCIIA was established in 1995 with support from The Lemelson Foundation. Its mission is to foster invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship in higher education -- components of the higher education curriculum that are vital to the nation's economic future. The NCIIA accomplishes its goals by supporting curricula and programs that encourage the development and the work of E-Teams -- multidisciplinary teams of students, faculty, and industry mentors working together to take an idea for a technological innovation and bring it through prototype development to commercialization. The "E" stands for excellence and entrepreneurship. (1) Effective April 1, 2006, the Scientific Equipment Group has been part of Olympus America's new Life Science Group, which also includes the Diagnostic Systems Group and the Life Science Business Development unit.