In 1979, WIPO introduced the WIPO Award for Inventors, in recognition of their talents and contributions and to promote inventive activities, in particular, in developing countries. The WIPO Award for Inventors is made available, in most cases, on request by national, regional or international institutions, either on a regular or on an ad hoc basis. WIPO does not itself organize contests, neither does it select the persons to whom the WIPO Medals are awarded. It leaves the selection of the winners to the organizers of the exhibition or competition, or to the institution that has requested the medal.
Since 1979 until August 2009, WIPO Medals and other distinctions have been awarded to more than 1200 inventors, from 118 countries. About twenty per cent of those inventors are women.