Dr. Ping Lan inducted into Alaska Innovators Hall of Fame for driving business and putting Alaska innovation on the map

For Dr. Ping Lan, innovation isn’t a buzzword, it’s a way of life. A decade ago, he created the Arctic Innovation Competition to stimulate innovative ideas and bring a pipeline of creative solutions to Alaska, the Circumpolar North, and the Arctic.

Since then, Dr. Lan has helped Alaskans follow their dreams and turn ideas into profitable business ventures. The Alaska State Committee on Research honors Dr. Lan for mentoring the next generation of idea makers, and inducts him into the Alaska Innovators Hall of Fame class of 2020.  

Dr. Ping Lan
Dr. Ping Lan

“No matter how rich you are or how many smart people you have working for you, it’s impossible to put a monopoly on innovation,” said Dr. Lan. “Innovation is interpreting your experience and knowledge in a new way. These new ideas are usually fueled by a mix of passion plus frustration. Everyone can think and has the capacity to create something new that makes innovation everyone’s business.”

Since 2009, the Arctic Innovation Competition has provided more than $240,000 to budding entrepreneurs to build prototypes and encourage their business ventures. Each year, it awards more than $25,000 in cash prizes to anyone with an original idea. Now Alaska’s number one idea contest, it has expanded to include Junior and Cub divisions that foster creativity and support the younger generation of innovators. In recent years, the  Arctic Innovation Competition has added prizes focusing on Alaskan students, sustainability, and the Arctic.

“Without the Arctic Innovation Competition, many companies would have not formed, ideas would never have grown into innovations, and many entrepreneurs would have failed in their ventures,” said Dr. Peter Webley, a faculty ambassador of UAF’s Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization. “Dr. Lan provides ideators and innovators with an opportunity to make that first pitch, and guides them through the process of turning their dream into reality. Winners of the Arctic Innovation Competition have gone on to larger startup accelerator programs and made significant impacts on the economic development of Fairbanks, the Interior, and all Alaska.”

Dr. Lan has worked in Canada, Australia, Thailand, United Kingdom and China as a planner, an academia, a journalist, and an entrepreneur. He is a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Management, where he researches and teaches mass innovation. Dr. Lan serves as the faculty advisor to the Active and Innovative Minds student organization. Committed to promoting mass innovation and the idea that anyone can be an innovator, he is a keynote speaker at various international conferences and events in the United States, Japan, Brazil, Russia, India and China.