Last month, we profiled some of the answers our Behind the Breakthrough participants gave about the biggest challenges of invention. The takeaway? Creating useful, usable inventions isn’t exactly straightforward, but hard work and focus goes a very long way. This month, we’re picking up where we left off. On this Behind the Breakthrough, the second of a two-part series, three more of our Behind the Breakthrough participants discuss the various challenges of invention, and their ideas for effectively overcoming them.

Behind the Breakthrough Answers: “What are the biggest challenges of invention?” (Part Two)

From L to R: Dr. Gregory Phelan, Jake Russell, Pablos Holman

“As a trained scientist, you learn a lot about how to do lab work, how to problem solve, and how to creatively think. But inventors must also have the ability to connect the dots—I can make this material, but how can I get this out to society? Who can help me commercialize this? One of the greatest challenges of being an inventor is finding a way to do it all—to build an idea, but then to find the business partners who can implement that idea in a way that benefits society.”

— Dr. Gregory Phelan, Associate Professor, State University of New York College at Cortland

“The hardest part about inventing is the time commitment. Good ideas can take a significant amount of time to create and refine into a useful and specific example. There’s this idea that being an inventor means always thinking of radical new concepts that change the world. The reality is that even an incremental development that takes one tiny, but useful and practical step toward solving a problem can be very valuable.  When combined, multiple incremental improvements can collectively enable new and compelling innovations – such as the modern-day smartphone.”

— Jake Russell, IV Invention Development Manager

“The most challenging aspect of invention is simply the lack of time. I always dream of applying all of my time to the right ideas or inventions. But mystically I have no way of knowing whether an idea or invention is the right thing. Since I am always working on the five-to-ten-year horizon, some of my futuristic ideas can be off the mark – I can be wrong about what will happen in the next decade. All of this means that I can waste far too much time inventing one thing. And that can be nerve-wracking!”

— Pablos Holman, IV Resident Futurist

Want to hear more from these impressive inventors? Check out our original profiles of Greg, Pablos, and Jake. And don’t forget to follow the rest of our Behind the Breakthrough series by subscribing to our IV Insights blog and following our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. 


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