Celebration of Innovation

Since 1990, NC State has held an annual Celebration of Innovation, awarding an innovator of the year and an entrepreneur of the year, and recognizing faculty and graduate student inventors who are turning NC State research into real-world results, launching startups and patenting technologies.

Innovator and Entrepreneur of the Year Awards


A call for nominations for the Innovator and Entrepreneur of the Year awards is typically sent out to Deans, Department Heads, and Associate Deans for Research in early summer of each year.

A selection committee composed of past award winners will evaluate the nominations and make recommendations to the Vice Chancellor for Research, and Innovation. The individual selected to receive each award will be recognized by the Chancellor at ORC’s annual Celebration of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to be held in October at the Chancellor’s Residence.

Each Associate Dean for Research may nominate up to two candidates for each award. Each Department Head, Center Director or other interested party may nominate one individual for each award. Previous winners are not eligible for the award they have already received.

Nominations should include a letter of support no longer than 2 pages addressing the criteria described below.

Nomination Criteria

The following criteria should be considered when preparing your nomination letter:

Innovator of the Year Criteria:

  • Patents Awarded
  • Licenses Executed based on Innovator’s technology
  • Industry Collaboration – number of companies engaged, research dollars attracted, resulting patents or licenses, etc.
  • Impact – The ultimate sign of a successful innovation is a product on the market that is making an impact. Impact can be measured in a number of ways: enhanced products or services for consumers, products that improve quality of life, products that create new markets, etc.

Dr. John S. Risley Entrepreneur of the Year Criteria:

  • Impact of companies and/or non-profits launched or supported – the impact can be measured in involvement with new startup companies, the number of jobs created, revenue generated, production of products or services that benefit consumers and/or improve the quality of life, etc.
  • Demonstrates the best traits of entrepreneurship, including business creativity and perseverance.
  • Entrepreneurial Impact – Encourages entrepreneurialism both on and off-campus.

Questions about the awards process?

Contact us to discuss the nomination process

Past Events & Awardees