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Olympus Launches National Innovation Award Program

Partnership with National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Expands Company's Commitment to Foster Innovation in U.S.

Melville, NY, January 4, 2005 -- Olympus, a precision technology leader in designing and delivering innovative solutions in healthcare and consumer electronics worldwide, today announced the launch of the Olympus Innovation Award, which recognizes individuals who have fostered or demonstrated innovative thinking in education. Olympus will execute the program in partnership with the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), a national alliance of colleges and universities fostering invention, innovation and entrepreneurship in U.S. higher education.

The inaugural Olympus Innovation Award will be given to a faculty member, chosen from one of NCIIA's nearly 200 member institutions, who fosters an environment of innovative thinking among students through inventive teaching methods, projects and case studies. NCIIA member institutions include many top colleges and research institutions in the United States. Olympus Innovation Award nominations will need to demonstrate how the nominees' methods and philosophies have inspired students, and detail the resulting student innovations. F. Mark Gumz, president and chief operating officer of Olympus America Inc., will present a $10,000 prize to the first Olympus Innovation Award winner at the NCIIA's 9th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 17-19, 2005.

"As an innovative company, Olympus believes it is important to recognize and reward innovative thinking, as well as the execution of such ideas, particularly those that enhance people's lives," explained Gumz. "The Olympus brand is synonymous with innovation. We are pleased to partner with the NCIIA to honor professors who inspire and motivate their students to create breakthrough ideas, products and services and bring them to life. The award program also reflects Olympus' commitment to improving society, a philosophy the company has followed from its beginnings in 1919, and which it shares with the NCIIA."

"This award program furthers our commitment to create innovative, commercially viable, and socially beneficial businesses and employment opportunities in the United States," noted Phil Weilerstein, executive director of the NCIIA. "We are proud to team up in this endeavor with Olympus, a company with a long and impressive history of innovation and a commitment to improve peoples' lives."

"It is critical for America to maintain its edge in science and technology in the world," added Gumz. "With experts pointing to a decrease in both prizes awarded to Americans and the number of papers published in major professional journals, I think it is fair to say the country is at a crossroads. Olympus is committed to helping enable America to continue to be a leader in science and technology innovation."

The winner of the Olympus Innovation Award will be selected by a committee of five judges. The award selection committee includes Sir Harold Evans, renowned journalist and author of the new epic work "They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine: Two Centuries of Innovators," as well as Gumz, Weilerstein, and distinguished faculty from among the NCIIA membership.

Olympus and the NCIIA are currently soliciting nominations for the award. Students, faculty, and others at U.S. institutions of higher learning may nominate qualified educators by logging in at www.nciia.org until January 15, 2005. For more information about the Olympus Innovation Award, contact the NCIIA at info@nciia.org.

The launch of the Olympus Innovation Award program comes on the heels of the company's exclusive corporate sponsorship of the public television series "They Made America," which aired nationally on PBS stations in November 2004. The four-part series was based on the above book from Harold Evans, published by Little, Brown & Company in October 2004.

Olympus' corporate sponsorship represents its ongoing commitment to technological innovation, marked by a growing portfolio of its own technological firsts introduced over the last 85 years. Some of the "world's first" innovations include the first gastrocamera (1950), the first functional DNA analyzer (2002), and the first fully designed, professional digital SLR camera system (2003). Additional information on these and other Olympus innovations can be found in the attached fact sheet.

Olympus is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering innovative solutions in healthcare and consumer electronics worldwide.

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 market leading consumer electronics business spans North and South America.

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.

Company Contact: Agency Contact: Agency Contact:
Elizabeth Sullivan Christian Pflaumer Loran Diehl Saito
Olympus America Inc. Chandler Chicco Agency LLC NCIIA
(631) 844-5005 (212) 229-8491 (413) 587-2174
elizabeth.sullivan@olympus.com cpflaumer@ccapr.com ldsaito@nciia.org