Nominations for the 45th Marconi Prize Are Open

By John Cioffi

Guglielmo Marconi

“Long experience has taught me not always to believe in the limitations indicated by purely theoretical considerations. These, as we well know, are based on insufficient knowledge of all the relevant factors.”

Guglielmo Marconi

What do legendary innovators like Sir Charles Kuen Kao, Vint Cerf, Paul Baran and Sir Arthur C. Clark have in common? Not only have they changed the lives of billions of people – they have been recognized with the Marconi Prize for doing so.

In 2020, we will award the 45thannual Marconi Prize.  Nominations are open through January 31, 2020, for information-and-communications-technology innovators who exemplify the best in scientific achievement, entrepreneurship, practical innovation, and humanitarianism. We invite outstanding nominees and welcome diversity in gender, geography,and discipline.

A Prize Born of Vision

Guglielmo Marconi was born 145 years ago in Bologna, Italy. Scientific genius, entrepreneur,and creative thinker, Marconi developed the wireless technology that is the basic to today’s connected world.

Starting at age 20 with home-built equipment and assistance from his butler, Mignani, Marconi worked for nearly two years on his initial breakthrough that carried radio signals over the hills around his home. In the early 1900’s, he successfully transmitted his first trans-Atlantic wireless signal.

Even the by-then well-known Thomas Edison was impressed after learning about the success of Marconi’s first trans-Atlantic transmission, remarking, “I would like to meet that young man who had the monumental audacity to attempt and succeed in jumping an electrical wave across the Atlantic.”

That audacity, along with a strong desire to provide sailors and passengers who were isolated or distressed at sea with a means of communications, eventually led to Marconi’s receipt of the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics, as well as to the birth of the long-distance communications and broadcast communication industries.

The Marconi Prize at 45

The connected world that Marconi enabled has moved from the novelty that it was in 1974 when Marconi’s daughter, Gioia Braga, founded the Marconi Society to commemorate her father’s centennial, to a societal and economic imperative for everyone on the planet.

Recognizing the need to connect the three billion people who still do not have Internet access, the Marconi Society today envisions a world in which all people can create opportunity through the benefits of connectivity.

The Marconi Prize honors the most innovative, impactful,and courageous scientists of our time, in the spirit of Guglielmo Marconi. This year, we will add a humanitarian aspect to the key criteria that nominees are evaluated against to help ensure our focus on digital inclusion.

Nominees will be evaluated on four key attributes:

Scientific Contribution

This is at the heart of each Marconi Prize nomination. Each Marconi Fellow has not only made extraordinary scientific discoveries in communications – they set the stage for, influenced, and advanced the field beyond their own achievements. In fiber optics, communication theory, the Internet, mobile, GPS, applications, and security, Marconi Fellows have built industries with their innovations.

Practical Impact Contribution

While outstanding technical innovation is central to the Marconi Prize, practical impact is of equal importance. Guglielmo Marconi created communications technology that would solve problems, such as safety for travelers and crew in isolated areas. We honor his work by celebrating inventions that can be used everywhere.

Humanitarian Contribution

Our newest Marconi Prize contribution criterion recognizes achievements of digital inclusivity by those who lead the design, development, and/or deployment of new communications technologies or public policies that promote social development, reduce the impact of natural disasters or conflicts,and promote ethical and inclusive principles.

Entrepreneurial Contribution

Marconi was as much an entrepreneur as a scientist and various forms of the company he founded in 1897 remained in business through early 2000. Marconi Prize recipients demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit by founding companies, advising and guiding leaders, and helping companies thrive in new environments.

Nominate Now

We invite nominations for innovators that are creating tomorrow’s technology in service of digital inclusion. Please nominate outstanding individuals by January 31, 2020. Questions may be addressed to