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Olympus Announces Winner Of New Annual Olympus Innovation Award

UT Austin Professor Recognized for Integrated Technology Entrepreneur Program

Melville, NY, March 21, 2005 - Olympus, a precision technology leader in designing and delivering innovative solutions in healthcare and consumer electronics worldwide, today announced Steven Nichols, Professor of mechanical engineering, University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), as the winner of the first annual Olympus Innovation Award. The award, which recognizes faculty who have promoted or demonstrated innovative thinking in education, is executed in partnership with the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), a national alliance of nearly 200 colleges and universities fostering invention, innovation and entrepreneurship in U.S. higher education. Nichols, 54, received the award from F. Mark Gumz, president and chief operating officer of Olympus America, on March 18 at the NCIIA's 9 th Annual Meeting in San Diego.

The $10,000 prize recognized Nichols for the visionary development and successful implementation of an integrated technology entrepreneur program at UT Austin and his contributions to similar programs at 17 universities in eight countries from three continents. Nichols's innovative and interdisciplinary education, research and service programs have not only expanded opportunities for student entrepreneurship, but also increased the number of start-up companies based on university-developed technology.

Three other professors from NCIIA members schools were also recognized as finalists. They include Kathleen Allen, Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Southern California; David Barbe, Faculty Director, Hinman CEOs Program, University of Maryland; and John Ochs, Director of the Integrated Development Program, Lehigh University. Each of the finalists will receive an Olympus product of his or her choice, including a digital microscope, ultra zoom digital camera, or the company's newly-introduced combo digital music player/digital camera, the m:robe™.

“I am pleased to be here tonight to celebrate the launch of the Olympus Innovation Award and to recognize its finalists, and the first winner,” said Gumz. “As a company with a long history of innovation and many ‘industry first' technologies in healthcare and consumer electronics, Olympus is committed to supporting education to foster continued innovation in America.

“We applaud the work of Dr. Nichols and the other three finalists, which has had broad impact on their institutions and beyond to touch varied and diverse communities, including national and international levels.”

"The Olympus Innovation Award recognizes the critical role that American higher education plays in driving our innovation economy. Through this award Olympus is supporting and recognizing the leadership of faculty in inspiring and encouraging the next generation of innovators,” said Philip Weilerstein, executive director, NCIIA. “We are pleased to partner with Olympus in creating this award to highlight the importance of technology innovation to the advancement individuals, institutions and society at large.”

Nichols was selected from numerous qualified nominations submitted by NCIIA member institutions, including many top colleges and research institutions in the United States. The winner and other finalists of the Olympus Innovation Award were determined by a committee of five judges. Selection criteria included innovation, outcomes, problem solving, quality of outcomes, impact, institutional change, individual influence, inspiration to innovate, motivation to action and societal impact, with each criterion evaluated on a 1-5 rating scale. The award selection committee was comprised of 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, Dr. Abigail Barrow, director, Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center; and Dr. Arthur Boni, deputy director, Donald H. Jones Center of Entrepreneurship, Carnegie Mellon University.

The Olympus Innovation Award program is an outgrowth 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.

The Olympus Innovation Award and corporate sponsorship represent Olympus' 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. For more information, visit www.olympusamerica.com .


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