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As we sent the August issue to press, the editors of R&D Magazine are busy preparing for the September issue, which will profile the top innovations selected for the 2011 R&D 100 Awards. At the same time, we have opened nominations for the 2012 competition, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the awards. If your company introduced a product this year, you can enter your product now. Here are typical questions we receive about the process:

What products or processes are eligible? Any new technical product or process that was first available for purchase or licensing between Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2011, is eligible for the 2012 R&D 100 Awards. The product must be a working, marketable product: proof-of-concept prototypes do not qualify. Products requiring regulatory approval must have received approval for marketing by a governing regulatory authority.

How do I enter? Companies must complete and submit an entry form, pay the entry fee, and submit all documentation electronically by the deadline of April 13, 2012.

The entry is a written document, (typically 10 to 20 pages in length) that details development history, primary functions, methods of operation, scientific theories behind the technology, the materials, composition, construction, or mechanism of action, and product price. Supporting information—scientific papers, images, videos, testimonials—is encouraged.

Editors' Advice: Answer all of the questions in a clear, concise, and objective manner. Do not write this as an advertisement or marketing brochure. Write the document as an informative, scientific report that will be read by very busy judges.

How do the judges evaluate entries? The most important section of the entry is the product comparison. Entrants are asked to list their product's competitors and supply a matrix showing how the key features of the product—including price and operating costs—compare to existing products or technologies. The judges also want to know a product's limitations. If you say the product has no shortcomings, expect the judges to be skeptical about your entry.

It is in the competitive matrix where many entries fail to explain their technology and its contribution to the market in clear, objective terms. The statement "We have no competition" sends up a red flag. Every product and process has competition of some form. For example, the first telephone competed with the telegraph and in-person conversation. The first motor vehicle competed with the horse and buggy.

How do I improve my entry? To provide additional assistance to companies submitting entries, particularly first-time entrants, the editors are offering an Early Bird review for entries submitted before Nov. 15, 2011. Upon request, the editors will provide recommendations to help you improve the entry by Dec. 15, 2011. While we can’t guarantee that the recommendations will translate into a win, the suggestions will guide you to provide the information that the judges seek.

Can you tell me more? You can find detailed instructions, read "How to Win An R&D 100 Award" and "10 Most Common R&D 100 Questions", sign up for the mailing list, and download the entry form on our website: