Janiot: Innovators of the Americas will become the Latin American Nobel Prize of ideas

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Colombian journalist Ángela Patricia Janiot, co-director of the Innovators of the Americas Award

According to Colombian journalist Ángela Patricia Janiot, the Innovators of the Americas Award which acknowledges public figures or citizens who have been able to break new ground and address social issues aims at becoming the continent’s Nobel Prize for innovation and entrepreneurship. Janiot is co-director of this prestigious award, whose second edition will be held next August in Medellín, Colombia..

“With no modesty or humility, I stand here saying that we hope to become the Latin American version of the Nobel Prize. Of course, we are not associated to the Nobel Prize, but we do want to obtain that level of prestige”, said Janiot during an interview with Colombia.inn, Efe partnered news agency.

The Innovators of the Americas Award is looking for people with problem-solving ideas in different fields that usually go unnoticed.

That’s why the competition is open for research “icons and legends” such as Mexican-born Mario Molina, one of the first people who warned about the thinning ozone layer, and Jorge Reynolds, the Colombian creator of the first artificial pacemaker in 1958, as well as for everyday citizens with revolutionary ideas.

“Latin America has a community of innovators, but they either don’t get support or don’t have enough information to know how to make the most out of their projects, or their ideas are not widespread enough”, said Janiot.

Therefore, the goal is to put these “invisible” stories on the map in order to produce “a change of mentality (…) we can, we have a talent that is acknowledged and valued by society”.

It’s about “showing the world that in Latin America we do have talent and good-hearted intentions for the entire humanity”, and making “young Latin Americans confident about their capacity”, added Felipe Pagés, co-director of the Award.

Since last December until March 16, Latin American students, young professionals, entrepreneurs and businesses with a 2-year (or more) project, may submit their proposals.

Our premise, said Janiot, is to “rewrite Latin American history with the best we’ve got”, acknowledging that Latin Americans usually regard anything “foreign as better”.

Janiot and Pagés gave some examples of Latin American public figures whose ideas have changed society, besides Molina and Reynolds.

Dionisio Soldevila, for instance, discovered triceps and the Soldevila tendon; Mexican Guillermo González Camarena invented color TV; and Peruvian Hernando De Soto designed a program to hand in ownership titles to poor people.

Other examples include Brazilian engineer Jaime Lerner, who designed in his hometown Curitiba massive transportation systems that were replicated in Bogota, Santiago de Chile and Mexico City; and fellow Brazilian Alberto Santos Dumont, creator of the first self-rotating airplane.

The first edition, held in 2011, awarded 50.000 dollars to Andrés Ramírez Vélez in the Sustainability and Ecology category, Javier Agudelo (Business and Industry) and Jorge Leal (Education) -all from Colombia-; and Darío Polaco (Design) and Luis Aponte-Tinao (Science and Technology), both from Argentina. COLOMBIA.INN

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