[Overview as PDF file]
Founded in 1824, along with the The Franklin Institute, The Franklin Institute's Awards Program has long been recognized as the oldest, and most comprehensive science and technology honor bestowed in the country and around the world. At the time, Philadelphia was the nation's largest city and a noted center of innovation and manufacturing. While The Franklin Institute was initially established to train artisans and mechanics in the fundamentals of science, it soon began arranging a series of regular exhibitions of manufactured goods, along with the presentation of awards to recognize excellence in those areas.
In 1874 the all-volunteer Franklin Institute Committee on Science and the Arts began selecting Franklin Institute Award recipients. The Committee continues its work to this day, recognizing the fields of chemistry, computer and cognitive sciences, earth and environmental science, engineering, life science and physics through the Benjamin Franklin Medals. The Franklin Institute Awards are among the oldest and most prestigious science awards in the world, with winners recognized for their formidable and ground-breaking contributions to science.
Supplementing the Benjamin Franklin Medals are the two newest Franklin Institute Awards: the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science and the Bower Award for Business Leadership. Begun in 1990, the Bower Awards were made possible by a $7.5 million bequest from the noted Philadelphia chemical engineer Henry Bower. One of the most robust science prizes in the country, the Bower Award for Achievement in Science carries a cash prize of $250,000.
Laureates of The Franklin Institute are brought to Philadelphia each April for a weeklong series of events and activities aimed at connecting and celebrating the Laureates' remarkable accomplishments with area students and the community. The unique series of events culminates with a grand awards ceremony and elegant dinner, befitting the honor and distinction of this historic awards program.
The list of Franklin Institute Awards Laureates is a roster of science and technology's most important and influential names over the last two centuries, men and women who have deepened human knowledge at both the basic and the applied levels. This list includes Albert Einstein, Rudolph Diesel, Marie and Pierre Curie, Thomas Edison, Jane Goodall, Orville Wright, Stephen Hawking, and Jacques Cousteau, just to name a few. While the Franklin Institute does not bestow a medal to a person who has previously been awarded the Nobel Prize, 108 Franklin awardees have gone on to win the Nobel in their respective fields.
The Franklin Institute's mission is to inspire an understanding of and passion for science and technology learning. Encouraging excellence and recognizing the far reaching impact of the laureates' achievements is one important way to preserve the legacy of Benjamin Franklin.
Through the Franklin Institute Awards, The Franklin Institute seeks to broaden public awareness and encourage an understanding of the world of science and technology. The celebrated work is evaluated on the basis of uncommon insight, skill and creativity, as well as its ability to impact the future or have some public benefit. In addition to celebrating the 'Franklins' of today, The Franklin Institute hopes to also inspire and influence the innovation of the 'Franklins' of tomorrow.