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Garmin founders win Economist's Innovation Award for Consumer Products

16 November 2012 @ 11:35 AM  / Automotive Blog / Aviation Blog / Company News / Customer Stories / Garmin Chicago Store Blog / Garmin Garage / Marine Blog / Mobile Blog / Outdoor Blog / Sports / Fitness Blog / The Garmin Story /

The Economist Innovation Award 2012In 1989, Gary Burrell and Dr. Min Kao stood around a card table with a couple fellow engineers, discussing how a constellation of satellites could benefit people's lives. This week, the founders of Garmin were honored with the Economist Group 2012 Innovation Award for Consumer Products for Garmin’s portable navigation devices.

Earlier this month, Gary and Min were inducted into the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame, joining an elite group that includes Clyde Cessna, Bill Lear, Walter and Olive Beech and other aviation icons. 

The Economist Group's awards recognize significant contributions across eight fields ranging from telecoms to social altruism.

“We are very honored to receive this prestigious award and humbled that Garmin is included among some of the biggest thinkers and best brands in the world,” said Min upon accepting the award on behalf of Garmin this week in London.

Gary and Min cropWhen asked to describe his "eureka" moment, Min shared this story: "My “eureka” moment had a delayed response. It was a casual dinner at an unassuming restaurant. I was in conversation with an engineering co-worker, Gary Burrell, a man of intelligence and integrity. We talked about the not-yet completed satellite navigation constellation and its potential as the base technology for future consumer products. The flashes of creating products for pilots, boaters, drivers, hunters and hikers that would provide safety and convenience and enrich people’s lives, flowed through our minds and into our conversation. At that time, and the months to follow, I was running on adrenaline, decidedly more anxious than euphoric. Twenty-three years and over 100 million products later, I recognize it as a life-changing event. My eureka moment."

Ribbon Cutting Olate Office_1996Tom Standage, Digital Editor at The Economist and Chairman of the panel of 29 judges, said of the award decision: “The Economist's Innovation Awards recognize the dreamers and the doers behind the innovations that transform the world we live in. Through their vision and creativity, this year’s winners have created important products and services. Whether in household names or behind-the-scenes breakthroughs, their innovative contributions have become part of everyday life for millions of people.” The awards ceremony formed the culmination of The Economist’s year-long program of engagement around innovation and was streamed live worldwide. For more details please visit:

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