The Alva Award

Presented by

Who will be the next great serial inventor—possibly even the next Thomas Edison? Someone who can not only envision incredible ideas, but also lead them to the finish line? Great inventors—and great inventions—solve problems, address real needs, and make the world work better.

99U recognizes these world-changing creators with the Alva Award and invites them to share insights from their creative process at our annual conference.

As the presenting sponsor of the Alva Award, GE is thrilled to honor those who are helping to shape the future by putting ideas into action.

2013 Alva Winner: Sebastian Thrun

Sebastian's 99U talk
From the Google Self Driving Car to Google Glass to the education start-up Udacity, Sebastian Thrun has led remarkable teams in the creation of products that will truly change the way the world works in the future.
Sebastian Thrun is CEO of Udacity, a start-up focused on democratizing higher education. He is also a part-time Google Fellow and Research Professor at Stanford University. Thrun is known for his work at Google X, home to the Google Self Driving Car. He was elected into the National Academy of Engineering at Age 39, and started and sold two companies, after winning the DARPA Grand Challenge, a historical robot race. Fast Magazine named him the fifth smartest person in business; he's on Vanity Fair's list of the New Establishment; Foreign Policy named him Global Thinker #4; his inventions have been featured as the best 50 inventions by Time Magazine, and one of his robots was named the top robot of all times by Wired Magazine.

Selection Committee

Tony Fadell
2012 Alva Award Winner // Founder & CEO, Nest
John Maeda
President, RISD
Bre Pettis
Co-Founder & CEO, MakerBot
Beth Comstock
Scott Belsky
Head of Behance
DJ Patil
Data Scientist, Greylock Partners
Diego Rodriguez
Partner, IDEO
Josh Rubin
Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Cool Hunting
Michael Ventura
Founder & CEO, Sub Rosa

The Alva Fellows

In addition to the Alva Award, 99U cultivates the next generation of creative visionaries with our Alva Emerging Fellowship program. Through an open application process, we select three promising young inventors each year and provide them with seed grants to take action on their ideas.

Kevin Kung
Innovation: By turning municipal organic waste into charcoal, Takachar aims to make a powerful impact on developing cities like Nairobi in Kenya. The project will reduce unmanaged urban waste, reduce energy poverty, and increase the income of local waste-pickers.
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Ethan Frier & Jonathan Ota
Project Aura
Innovation: Project Aura is a dynamic bicycle wheel lighting system, designed to increase road safety and highlight the intrinsic beauty of a bicycle in motion. The system responds to the rider’s speed, glowing a cautionary red at slow speeds and fading to white at cruising speeds.
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Juhee Bae
Innovation: OpenIR (Open Infrared) democratizes infrared satellite data by making it available in an easy-to-use, web-based map format. It also supports ecological sustainability by highlighting environmental features not easily seen through true-color, aerial images.
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