Rolex Awards for Enterprise are among the most prestigious awards in the world. During its 36-year-old history, this award scheme has produced 115 laureates and associate laureates from 40 countries, and from Sri Lanka there is one laureate and one associate laureate.
In 1998, Consultant Surgeon Vidyajyothi Dr. Wijaya Godakumbura won the top prize in the ‘Health and Science’ category for his internationally-acclaimed ‘Safe Bottle Lamp Project’ and in 2000 Dr. Rohan Pethiyagoda won a second prize for his project ‘Protect Sri Lanka’s Threatened Bio Diversity’.
In addition, there were two other Sri Lankans among the ‘Honourable Mentions,’ Tissa Pilimatalawa in 1981 and Gamini Samarasinghe in 1987. Dr. Godakumbura received his award at a gala award ceremony held at the Geneva Intercontinental Hotel attended by 300 dignitaries among whom were diplomats and officials of several international organisations based in Geneva. Dr. Pethiyagoda was honoured in Colombo at a ceremony held at the Hilton Hotel.
This award scheme was established in 1976 to encourage those with an adventurous and searching spirit through financial assistance and recognition to break new ground in areas that advance human knowledge and well-being. The awards recognise pioneering concepts and innovative thoughts by giving individuals the means to achieve an important undertaking.
Winners are chosen by an independent international jury composed of outstanding personalities from a wide range of disciplines. Besides science and health, the awards recognise outstanding achievements in the following areas of human endeavour: technology and innovation, exploration and discovery, environment, and cultural heritage.
The projects are evaluated on originality, feasibility, potential impact, determination, courage, tenacity and the spirit of enterprise. The five winners in the five categories would receive a cash prize of US$ 100,000 each, and five second prize winners would also receive cash prizes; that money is to be used to complete their projects. Each laureate and associate laureate would get a Rolex Watch and worldwide publicity in magazines such as TIME, Newsweek, National Geographic and Science & Nature.
Rolex laureates span the world. Their projects are helping to conserve the diversity of life on earth. They are pioneering revolutionary technologies such as a universal low power lighting system, a fridge that runs on sound and an early warning system for volcanic eruptions. By challenging the status quo, these bold and tenacious men and women have helped to make our planet a better place to live.
“As ever, we are seeking forward-looking men and women who are tackling the challenges of our age and who have innovative projects,” said Rebecca Irvin, Head of Philanthropy at Rolex. “We look forward to receiving many wonderful proposals from around the world.”
Details of the competition are given in the website www.rolexawards.com and one could get an idea of the nature of successful projects from the website www.safebottlelamp.org Dr. Godakumbura states that he is willing to give valuable tips to help those who are doing quality projects to apply for these awards. His contact details are available in his website.
The entries would close on 31 May 2011 and self nominations are allowed. Perhaps it is time that another from Sri Lanka won a Rolex Award.