2013/2014 FIRST Future Innovator Award sponsored by the Abbott Fund

The FIRST Future Innovator Award (FFIA) award recognizes creativity in effectively solving a real-world, complex problem through the invention of a unique solution beyond the requirements of the FIRST competition season. This award directly links to the FIRST mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and to the FIRST vision to transform the culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated.

Award Overview

The FFIA competition is open to all FRC and FTC team members for the current 2013/2014 FIRST competition season. FRC and FTC team members may apply at the FFIA PORTAL. The FFIA portal for student inventor submissions will open at Noon Eastern Time on Thursday, November 14, 2013 and close for submissions at Noon Eastern Time on Thursday, March 6, 2014.


The FFIA winner will be announced at the FIRST Championship award ceremony.  The winning inventor(s) will be granted an award sponsored by the Abbott Fund and also will have the opportunity to meet personally with Dean Kamen.  FIRST will provide transportation and hotel cost for one inventor and a chaperone to attend Championship (if the team and/or inventor is not already attending the Championship), and meet with Dean.

Read about what the 2013 FFIA Winner, Parker Owen, says about what the award has meant to him, below.

Award Criteria

Applicants make a formal electronic submission(s) by logging into the FFIA Portal (https://www.allthingspatent.com/maxidv4/ffia/). 

Ideas submitted for an FFIA in prior years will not be accepted unless the idea has been greatly improved/changed and could be considered new.

FIRST strongly encourages all teams to file for patent protection by filing a provisional patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), before submitting for the Future Innovator Award.

  • Additional information regarding provisional patent applications can be found at www.uspto.gov
  • Once an idea is shared through submission for this award, patent protection can only be sought in the United States and cannot be sought in any other jurisdiction, unless a provisional patent has been filed before submission.

Award Judging

At the 2014 FIRST Championship, the winner of the FIRST Future Innovator Award, sponsored by the Abbott Fund, will be announced and shown at the awards ceremony.

Submission will be judged on the following criteria:

1. Complexity of the problem to be solved by the invention
2. Effectiveness of the invention in solving the problem
3. Uniqueness of the invention
4. Simplicity of the invention
5. Practicality of developing and implementing the invention
6. Whether the invention was utilized for a FIRST-related activity
7. The degree to which to invention addresses one of the 14 Grand Challenges or the Four Challenge Themes
8. Judge’s Discretion (This criterion gives Judges the ability to take in to consideration elements of the invention not well captured above)

Student inventors are encouraged to think about and submit inventions that pertain to the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 Grand Challenges (http://www.engineeringchallenges.org).  More information regarding the 14 grand challenges can be found through the links below. 

Here is the list of Grand Challenges, with links to more detail on each:

1. Make Solar Energy Economical
2. Provide Energy From Fusion
3. Develop Carbon Sequestration Methods
4. Manage The Nitrogen Cycle
5. Provide Access To Clean Water
6. Restore And Improve Urban Infrastructure
7. Advance Health Informatics
8. Engineer Better Medicines
9. Reverse-Engineer The Brain
10. Prevent Nuclear Terror
11. Secure Cyberspace
12. Enhance Virtual Reality
13. Advance Personalized Learning
14. Engineer The Tools Of Scientific Discovery

 Other interesting areas may be related to:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Health
  3. Security
  4. Joy of Living,
  5. and of course the invention may also be related to FIRST Robotics as well.

The invention does not need to ‘solve’ one of the Grand Challenges or any of the other categories listed above, instead the Grand Challenges have been provided to give guidance for submissions for this award. 

Additional Documentation & Video

How to Apply for a Patent
Patent Process Video by Abbott
Submission Tips Video by Abbott

Questions can be submitted to maxid@maxval-ip.com

Parker Owen’s (2013 FFIA Winner) Experience with the FIRST Future Innovators Award

Winning the FIRST Future Innovator's Award (FFIA) has changed my life in so many ways. All my life I have thought differently than most of my peers; I didn't fit in any of the boxes society wanted to put me in. Because of this, I had a lot of opposition from my peers. After winning the FFIA I started to realize that thinking differently is in many ways a strength beyond all measure. The ability to see something, not just for what it is, but for what it could be, is what innovation is all about. Today is a different world from 100 years ago. Most inventions and innovations are components of bigger things or advancements of others. Some of the most useful innovations are simply building a better mouse trap. For me it was repurposing a common tool to do something new.

The Cycle-Leg has come a long way since receiving the award. The prosthetic leg's function is now in two separate pieces. One piece is an adjustable socket, the first of its kind. The other is the mechanics of the leg used for kinetic motion. The new socket is completely adjustable and can be used for both first world and third world use. It ranges in size from small to medium and then to large, in order to accommodate 95% of the general population. I hope that in the next few months to have the Cycle Leg in production. As for the mechanics the problems have been worked out and I am in the process of designing the final prototype before production. After meeting Dean Kamen and touring his DEKA facility I now know what is next for me and my inventions. In addition I have a better understanding of what it takes to get those inventions past prototyping. Seeing DEKA was like looking into the future. The things I saw there I will never forget. I learned an important lesson from Dean and DEKA, and that is that all successful things are done by a good team of people. I know now that I can't do this on my own but that I to need a good team of trusted, creative, and intelligent people. 

The FFIA has propelled me further than I ever thought possible. It has exposed me to the worlds of business and technology, and how they interact with each other. Even more so, FIRST has taught me not just how to make an excellent robot, but how to learn by doing. Doing is all we are. It is, and will be, what keeps us progressing. It is failing more times than succeeding, it is ending the game in last place with a head held high, it is always striving to make things better. It is all these things that gives me hope for the future. For all of the problems in the world, FIRST to me is a solution. They are shaping and encouraging the next generation to be contributors rather than consumers. For this I am eternally grateful.