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SLAS Innovation Award

Research that Ignites a Reaction

The SLAS Innovation Award is a $10,000 cash prize recognizing the work behind one exceptional podium presentation. This award honors research that proves to be exceedingly innovative and contributes to the exploration of technologies in the laboratory, exceeds a benchmark or milestone in screening or the lead discovery process or demonstrates an advanced and integrated use of mature technologies.

SLAS is searching for podium presentations from academia, government and industry that consist of innovative advances such as:

  • a fundamental study to develop new technology for the laboratory,
  • a new application of technology to laboratory automation or screening, or
  • use of technology to solve a unique problem.

Hear from Past SLAS Innovation Award Winners

SLAS2020 Innovation Award Winner: Joseph de Rutte 

Spotlight on Christian Soitu, Oxford University, 2019 Innovation Award Recipient 

The SLAS Innovation Award consists of a $10,000 check presented to the winning presenting author (see Rules and Regulations: Monetary Disbursement, below). Subject to SLAS requirements and the approval of the SLAS Awards and Grants Advisory Committee, the winning presenting author is also:

  • invited to join the judging panel for the following year and
  • invited to participate on the SLAS2022 Program Committee for the following year's conference.

The winner is also granted a complimentary one-year Premier Membership to SLAS. The award-winning work will be featured in an issue of SLAS Technology and/or SLAS Discovery following the conference, and the winner will also be profiled in a future issue of Electronic Laboratory Neighborhood, SLAS’s e-zine.


The panel of judges is comprised of individuals approved by the SLAS Awards and Grants Advisory Committee and represents various technologies and applications within the SLAS International Conference and Exhibition curriculum.

Should a tie occur after scoring is final, the SLAS President is the tiebreaker. Judges may not have or have had any formal association with the candidates, either direct or indirect. Judges must recuse themselves from evaluating any candidate wherein there exists a relationship such as family, business, financial or other, e.g. academic or student/professional association. Judges must sign a non-conflict of interest certification form ensuring no improper purposes. It is expected that any issues are declared by the judges. The SLAS Awards and Grants Advisory Committee Chair makes the final decision on any questionable issues.

The SLAS Innovation Award selection process is based on a three-tiered evaluation system:

  1. Selection of the SLAS Podium Presentations
    In assembling the program, the SLAS2021 Program Committee selects qualifying podium presentations from the abstracts received in the Call for Abstracts submission period. To qualify for entry into the SLAS Innovation Award contest an abstract must be received prior to the Call for Abstracts deadline of Monday, September 14, 2020, and the author must opt-in for consideration using the appropriate checkbox. When opting-in, applicants will be asked to provide a statement of key innovation and impact of their work to the SLAS community.
  2. Preliminary Screening
    Working from the conference's selected abstracts, the panel of judges scores all the abstracts thereby identifying the SLAS Innovation Award finalists for evaluation at SLAS2021. The panel of judges will review only those podium presentations selected and slotted for the conference by the SLAS2021 Program Committee. Short course instructors, poster presenters and plenary speakers* are not eligible unless they have also been accepted into the SLAS2021 Scientific Program. All candidates must adhere to the SLAS abstract submission policies, timelines, rules and regulations.

    How Preliminary Screening Works

    The SLAS2021 Program Committee selects podium presentations for the SLAS International Conference and Exhibition. The panel of judges will review and score the abstracts. (See "Scoring" below). The Chair assigns all abstracts for evaluation to the panel of judges. Each of the podium presentations will be scored by a minimum of two judges.

    Upon completion of the first scoring phase, the panel of judges will convene by teleconference to select the top 20 to 25 candidate presentations. These top candidates will be offered the opportunity to submit an extended abstract for review by the panel. An extended abstract is strongly encouraged by the judges to allow better differentiation of the leading candidates. Failure to submit information in time for the next selection phase will jeopardize the author's chances for inclusion as a finalist.

    Upon completion of the second phase, the SLAS Innovation Award judges will announce the SLAS Innovation Award finalists.

  3. Request for Additional Information

    As part of the preliminary screening process, and in coordination with the Chair and panel of judges, a candidate author may be contacted to answer further questions.

*Plenary speakers are not eligible to submit their plenary talk for consideration for the SLAS Innovation Award. However, those individuals giving a plenary talk may also choose to submit an abstract to be considered for the SLAS2021 Scientific Program and to be considered for the SLAS Innovation Award upon acceptance into the program.

The panel of judges will attend and evaluate each of the candidate's presentations and will collectively select the winner of the SLAS Innovation Award after all presentations are complete. While scoring the presentations, the judges will consider:

  • Impact on Life Sciences and Technology
    Will this work make a noticeable contribution to the field of life sciences and technology? Will it substantially reduce the cost, change the workflow or improve the quality of laboratory processes? Is the method robust enough to allow routine implementation? Will it have widespread adoption over the next 10 years? Did the presenter explain why he/she was doing the research and who will benefit from this research/technology? Would this advancement only benefit a small group of people or could it have far-reaching/global impact and change laboratory automation as we know it?
  • Originality/Creativity
    How novel is the approach or solution? Is this work a creative solution to a new problem or a new twist on an old theme? Can this approach be applied to a range of problems or is it limited to one particular case? Is this "copycat" science applied to a slightly different problem?
  • Quality of the Science
    Was the experiment performed properly? Can improvements be made either with the science or the technology? Do the data reflect reaching a fundamental limit? What is the confidence that the result is correct? Are the results repeatable and were the results repeated? Are there better methods to solve the same problem? Did the presenter appropriately report any limitations of the methods? If this work is early in development, are there any major hurdles to overcome prior to widespread success? Does the presenter understand the uncertainty of the measurements/methods?
  • Oral Presentation
    Was the oral presentation in alignment with the written abstract? Did the presenter explain the key concept(s) well enough so that a well-educated listener could follow his/her main train of thought? Was the presenter able to keep the audience's attention throughout the presentation? Was the presentation well organized with respect to its look-and-feel (e.g., large enough fonts, suitable colors, readable graphics, etc.)? Was the presentation's content organized in a logical manner? Did the presenter answer questions from the audience in a satisfactory manner? Did the presenter provide the correct amount of background material so that the general SLAS audience can understand the subject? Did the audience seem excited by the presentation?

Each candidate presentation will be judged on a scale of one to five (with five being the best possible score; integers only). The scores of all judges will be consolidated for the final decision.

  1. The SLAS Innovation Award panel is appointed by and serves at the discretion of the SLAS Awards and Grants Advisory Committee and the SLAS Board of Directors. The SLAS Innovation Award will follow the timeline below:
    • October — Review of podium abstracts accepted into the SLAS2021 Scientific Program and selection of the top 20 to 25 SLAS Innovation Award candidates
    • November — SLAS announces the SLAS Innovation Award finalists (up to 10)
    • SLAS International Conference and Exhibition — Top finalists' presentations are judged, and the selection of the Innovation Award winner is announced
    • February — Media announcements, SLAS Discovery and SLAS Technology follow-up
    • May — Manuscripts due to SLAS Discovery and/or SLAS Technology for publication
  2. Candidates are encouraged to be Premier Members of SLAS to participate in the award program and/or win the SLAS Innovation Award; however, membership is not required.
  3. All finalists are asked to submit a previously unpublished scientific manuscript (original research or a related review paper) for peer-reviewed publication in SLAS Discovery or SLAS Technology by Monday, May 3, 2021. This manuscript must be received before the $10,000 cash award is disbursed. These requirements will be outlined in the Letter of Intent allowing SLAS to use the abstracts for press releases and other media announcements.
  4. The panel of judges will review only those podium presentations selected and slotted for the conference by the SLAS2021 Program Committee (not short courses, posters or plenary presentations). All candidates must adhere to the SLAS abstract submission policies, timelines, rules and regulations*1.
  5. The following individuals are not eligible to participate in the SLAS Innovation Award program:
    • SLAS Board of Directors
    • SLAS Awards and Grants Advisory Committee
    • officers
    • the Annual Conference Program Committee*
    • contractors
    • employees
    • members of the Judging Panel
    • family members
    • and/or those considered to be "insiders."

Candidates affiliated with someone on the panel of judges are permitted to participate, but the judge must recuse him or herself from evaluating that candidate.

* The SLAS2021 Program Committee comprises of a Chairman, Associate Chairman, Track Chairs and Associate Track Chairs. Session Chairs are not members of the SLAS2021 Program Committee, and therefore are eligible to participate.

*1Abstract Submission Policy

SLAS invites academicians, scientists and post-doctoral and graduate students to submit abstracts for scientific talks and poster presentations for this international educational forum by Monday, September 14, 2020. Presentations will be hand-picked by the Annual Conference Program Committee. 

To ensure that your abstract receives proper consideration for this award, please be sure to include information on methods, results and conclusions in your submitted abstract.

Rules, regulations and guidelines are subject to change at the discretion of the SLAS Board of Directors in accordance with bylaws, policies and procedures.

The winner of the $10,000 cash prize will be announced on the final day of SLAS2021. The following rules apply:

  1. The candidate presentation author, co-author or representative must be present to accept the award at the final plenary session. If a representative is not present the SLAS Innovation Award will be forfeited.
  2. The $10,000 cash prize is awarded solely to the winning presenting author and will be sent to the winner upon receipt of their manuscript, see Rules and Regulations #4 above.
  3. Once selected, the SLAS Innovation Award finalists must sign the SLAS Letter of Intent recognizing sole responsibility for the cash award and releasing SLAS of liability, taxes, candidate employer policies and any other obligations.
  4. In recognition of the varying employer policies governing employee acceptance of monetary prizes, those employer policies will be recognized and honored by SLAS to the extent they are not inconsistent with and do not conflict with SLAS policy and/or GAAP. However, SLAS will not be responsible or liable for said policies. Winners have the option to decline the monetary award.

The monetary award is not to be considered an obligation of SLAS.


Non-Discrimination Statement

Discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ethnicity, veteran’s status or physical or mental disability regarding the SLAS Innovation Award is prohibited. Each candidate shall be evaluated based on the award's criteria, which are tied to SLAS's exempt purpose of advancing the science and education of technology in the laboratory.