Help our nation honor the innovators who have inspired you

Advancing innovation
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James West works with students in his lab at MIT

James West has been recognized as an NMTI Laureate, IEEE Fellow, inductee to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and recipient of the George R. Stibitz Trophy for his work on electret microphones, which are used in everyday items such as telephones, sound and music recording equipment, and hearing aids. A recipient of over 200 U.S. and foreign patents, West is also an advocate for science education, particularly among minority students. West is shown collaborating on a project with graduate students in his lab at Johns Hopkins University. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)

Help our nation honor the innovators who have inspired you

3 min read

Innovation is a powerful tool that powers our economy. The products of American ingenuity can be found in nearly every home, office, lab, hospital, and in the hands or pockets of countless millions around the world. It’s what helps save lives, improve our standard of living, and send us breathtaking images from inside the human body to the far corners of our galaxy and beyond. We owe these historic, technological advancements to the dedication and efforts of scientists and inventors across our great nation.

Nobel and NMTI Laureate Frances Arnold

Frances Arnold became the first American female Nobel laureate in chemistry in 2018, for her work in harnessing the power of evolution to create new proteins that have useful properties not found in nature. A winner of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, an inductee in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and currently serving as co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, she is passionate about mentoring the next generation of young scientists. (Photo courtesy of Caltech)

To recognize these top innovators, the USPTO is currently accepting nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI), our nation's highest honor for technological achievement. The NMTI is a powerful symbol and incentive that encourages future generations to pursue scientific and technical careers, improve our world, and keep the United States at the forefront of global innovation.

Collage of several NMTI Laureates

NMTI Laureates, from left, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, shown with President Reagan, Yvonne Brill, shown with President Obama, James West, Frances Arnold, and Cherry Murray.

The President of the United States awards the NMTI to individuals, teams, and companies that have made lasting contributions to America's competitiveness, standard of living, and quality of life through technological innovation. Since the medal's inception in 1980, only 220 people have received this prestigious recognition. Past NMTI Laureates have included:

  • Frances Arnold, whose work focuses on making fuel and chemicals from renewable sources
  • Bob Metcalfe, an internet pioneer who proposed the idea of the Ethernet 
  • Cherry Murray, who invented an optical data storage system for telecommunication
  • James West, co-inventor of the foil electret microphone, which is used in phones, computers, and hearing aids

You can learn more about these and other NMTI Laureates on the National Science & Technology Medals Foundation's website.

National Medal of Technology and Innovation worn against a person's blazer

The design for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation is the work of medalist and sculptor Mico Kaufman of North Tewksbury, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)

The NMTI is one way our country recognizes leaders in innovation and inspires others to become innovators themselves. Innovation is a powerful tool to vanquish inequities, generate economic growth, and solve world problems. The USPTO, along with every sector of the innovation community, must incentivize more Americans to innovate and discover America's untapped potential. Our country will benefit significantly from these ideas, companies, and creative works.

We invite nominations for the NMTI that represent the diversity and ingenuity of innovators from across the United States. If you know of a person, team, or company that has changed the technological landscape through their discoveries and achievements, you can nominate them on the NMTI page of the USPTO website through May 26.

For more information on the NMTI and the award process, attend our webinar on March 16, sign up for the USPTO Awards newsletter, or contact us at

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