Xerox Corp. (Stamford, CT) prides itself on innovation. In fact, the word frequently appears in the company's advertising and promotional literature. And, every year, Xerox engineers file for and receive hundreds of patents. For instance, the company received 520 U.S. patents in 2004.

Xerox has received more than 16,000 patents since it was founded more than 50 years ago. Last year, the company generated two-thirds of its equipment sales from products launched in the last two years.

Xerox also sponsors an annual competition to encourage kids to invent new toys, games or sporting goods. Ironically, the National Toy Hall of Fame (Rochester, NY) is located just a few miles from Xerox's Worldwide Production Systems Manufacturing Plant in Webster, NY, the recipient of ASSEMBLY magazine's 2005 Assembly Plant of the Year award.

The Invent-A-Toy World Games national competition encourages children aged 5-19 years old to submit their ideas for a chance to see those inventions come to life on store shelves across America. A group called By Kids For Kids Co. ( organizes the competition. The "Chester Award," named after Chester Carlson--the creator of xerography who himself was a young inventor and entrepreneur--is given to kids whose inventions offer the greatest marketing potential and consumer appeal.

"American kids who are dreaming up new games, taking apart and re-building toys, or inventing neat things for sports can now turn their basement ideas into real products," says Herve Gallaire, chief technology officer and president of Xerox Innovation Group. "Xerox's deep-rooted culture in innovation, beginning with Carlson and his discovery of xerography through the many technological breakthroughs the company has made, makes us a natural supporter of this inspired competition."

The Xerox Innovation Group invents next-generation technology, manages intellectual property and creates new business opportunities through its research centers. It includes more than 1,000 researchers, scientists, engineers, intellectual property experts and business development managers. Xerox concentrates its R&D efforts in four key areas: marking systems, materials, digital imaging and solutions and services.

The Invent-A-Toy competition requires no entry fee, but kids must submit their entries, in writing, by Jan. 16, 2006. A panel of industry and academic experts in patenting, marketing, licensing and merchandising will evaluate the submissions. Winners will be announced in June 2006 at the International Licensing Show in New York City.

Winners will be given a licensing contract from By Kids For Kids, legal support to patent the invention (if patentable) and professional expertise to bring the product to market. In addition, they'll receive $1,000 worth of Xerox technology and a $5,000 U.S. savings bond. The winners will also direct a $1,000 savings bond to the teacher of their choice.

The four 2005 winners were:

  • Justin Euliano, 17, Oceanside, NY, who invented the "Aim-n-Fish" fishing reel.
  • Kirsten Martin, 10, Novato, CA, for her "FroBow" flying disc-like device.
  • Kevin Lim, 15, Rochester, NY, for his "Customizable Water Blaster" soaker.
  • Taylor Hernandez, 10, from Cincinnati, OH, for her "Magic Sponge Blocks."