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A New Approach to Unleash Innovation in Inner Cities

Inventor of Email Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai Launches Innovation Corps on 30th Anniversary of Email to Commemorate the Invention of Email in Newark, NJ.

Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email, has announced the launch of Innovation Corps, a new initiative to spark innovation in inner-cities.

What Were the Conditions for Email’s Invention?

Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai identified key ingredients that enable innovation in the launch of Innovation Corps, a program designed to make innovation accessible to students in American inner-city schools. Back in 1978, V.A. Shiva invented the first email system as a high school kid growing up in Newark, NJ; the details of which are on

It was in this environment of innovation at UMDNJ that Shiva coded the fifty-five thousand lines of code that would eventually come to be known as EMAIL, the first email system. Notably, all of this was accomplished in a relatively small university in the absence of substantial money from venture capital, large companies, or the military.

He believes five ingredients were key to his success:

  1. First was access to education. In VA Shiva’s case, he was admitted to a very selective 8-week computer programming program at NYU earlier in the Summer of 1978.
  2. Second were V.A. Shiva’s parents, a strong pair in encouraging the success of their son.
  3. Third was a mentor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), Dr. Leslie P. Michelson, who challenged him to utilize his computer programming skills.
  4. Fourth was access to infrastructure including hardware, software, space and technology that allowed him to build the first email system.
  5. Fifth was the collegial environment where he was treated as an equal professional among working adults who were twenty to thirty years his senior.

Innovation at Any Time, Any Where, by Any Body

In February 2012, following the Smithsonian’s acceptance of Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai’s papers, computer code, and other artifacts documenting the invention of email in 1978, a small but vocal minority unleashed vitriol. This group had earlier built a false history of the invention of email. This erroneous history promoted a deplorable narrative that innovation could only take place in big universities, large companies, and in the military.

What is Innovation Corps?

The aim of Innovation Corps is to unleash innovation in inner-cities by identifying and supporting those other teenagers in high school who wish to see their ideas translated into tangible products and services. The Innovation Corps will support such teenagers with both cash as well as services to foster an environment for innovation. Initially, high schools in three cities: Wilmington, DE, Newark, NJ and Cleveland, OH have been selected for the first year’s launch.

The proposed plan, per city, requires submission of a 2-page idea with listing of a team of students, an idea and a customer base for the idea. From this pool of innovative teams, Innovation Corps will recognize 5 semi-finalist teams and will select 1 finalist team per city. Each of the three finalists shall receive $25K to $30K in cash and services. These teams will be encouraged to organize their ideas, build a prototype, find an initial customer, translate their ideas into patented concepts and then to launch their own companies based on proposed ideas.

Visit Innovation Corps’ Homepage

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