The Economist’s Innovation Award

Published October 15th, 2009 - 03:43 GMT

The Economist’s Innovation Award for Computing and Telecommunications given to pioneer Raymond Kurzweil for contributions to optical character recognition and speech recognition technology  

Come and meet Mr Kurzweil, inventor and futurist, as he accepts an award at The Economist’s Innovation Awards Ceremony in London on October 29th

·       At the age of 15, Raymond Kurzweil wrote his first computer program, which was used by researchers at IBM, and his invention of the first musical synthesiser came two years later. In 1974, Mr Kurzweil created and commercialised optical character recognition (OCR) technology and later created the fist omni-font OCR system. In 1978, he began to sell this technology, and the OCR market has been growing ever since. In the 1980s, Mr Kurzweil developed computer speech recognition and launched the world’s first large vocabulary speech recognition program. He continued to revolutionise this technology in the medical field, as well as performing ground-breaking research in various areas of artificial intelligence.

·       The Economist is delighted to recognise Raymond Kurzweil, founder of Kurzweil Computer Products and Kurzweil Applied Intelligence, as this year’s winner in the category Computing and Telecommunications. Previous winners in this category include Matti Makkonen, former Executive Vice-president, Sonera, for his work on Short Message Service (SMS) text messaging, and Mike Lazaridis, founder of Research in Motion, for the development of the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device. 

·       Raymond Kurzweil and seven other 2009 Award Winners will be recognised for turning their innovative ideas into reality at The Economist’s Eighth Annual Innovation Awards Ceremony and Summit, held in London on October 29th & 30th. The Awards Ceremony takes place at London’s Science Museum on the night of October 29th and the Summit follows the day after at the Dorchester Hotel. This unique event is the only one of its kind focusing on the interface between innovation and business. 

·       The Economist’s Eighth Annual Innovation Summit provides an opportunity for delegates to meet the greatest thinkers and doers of this world, take away content relevant to their business and hear further from the 2009 Innovation Award winners. The full programme includes speakers such as Dr Joseph Adelegan, President of Green Globe Trust Founder and Cows to Kilowatts Partnership, who is campaigning on issues of eco-efficiency, climate change, and eco-solutions and renewable energy in Africa. Dr Adelegan will be joined by Dr Sergio Kapusta, Chief Scientist-Materials at Shell, who will be talking about the company’s work to help safely recover more of the world’s oil and gas from existing fields using some of the most innovative structures in energy exploration. 

·       Journalists may request interviews and a place at The Economist’s Eighth Annual Innovation Awards Ceremony (29th) at the Science Museum and Summit (30th) at The Dorchester by contacting the press team at Waggener Edstrom on +44 207 632 3900 or e-mail

Tom Standage, The Economist Business Editor, talks about Raymond Kurzweil’s winning entry:

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