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From Ireland to Bellevue: 2015 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition Winner Visits IV

The potential of young inventors to change our world is truly unlimited. Take for example, Elle Loughran, a teenage inventor from Ireland. Even by exceptionally bright young inventor standards, Elle stands out. Her work on developing a biosensor that could help to diagnose certain types of brain tumors won her the IV Insightful Invention Award at the 2015 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition

Elle Loughran, the 2015 winner of IV's Insightful Invention Award at the 2015 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.  

 

And Elle’s award didn’t just come with a nice plaque. She also received a trip to the United States to visit IV and see the best we have to offer in the Pacific Northwest. For part of her four-day trip, Elle toured IV’s facilities, which included an up-close view of the photonic fence and passive vaccine storage device, Arktek, and spent some time with members of our staff and executive team, including Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Marketing Mona Locke and President and COO Adriane Brown. She also made time to meet with executives at Intel and explore a few Seattle landmarks.

Want to see a behind-the-scenes look of Elle’s trip? Check out her blog, which includes a detailed recap of virtually every stop on her journey.

At IV, we are committed to mentoring the next generation of inventors, scientists, and innovators. Our support for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education motivated our sponsorship of the BY Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and its mission to cultivate and nurture the future of scientists and engineers.

We can’t thank Elle enough for making such a long and jam-packed visit half-way around the world. We enjoyed hosting her at our Bellevue headquarters and as it turns out, her first visit to the United States. Here’s to hoping we’ll see Elle more often on this side of the pond and to encouraging a bright future for the young inventors and scientists who, like Elle, are making our world a better place.

For more on Elle’s and other young scientist’s projects, check out coverage of the 2015 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in the Silicon Republic. You can also read more on other young inventors we admire in “News You Can Use: Young Inventors Transforming Society.”


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Behind the Breakthrough: Anna Bershteyn

This week’s behind the breakthrough profiles Anna Bershteyn, a senior research manager at IV’s Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM), a division of Global Good. Anna was born in Kiev, Ukraine and immigrated to the United States in 1989. She attended MIT, where she completed her bachelor’s and PhD in materials science and engineering before joining IDM in 2010.

Here are some of her reflections:

On what led her to IV:

“I joined the IDM after getting to know Philip Eckhoff, the Institute’s principle investigator. He and I held the same graduate fellowship from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. At the time, IDM was small and focused on malaria modeling. Philip was looking to grow some tendrils in other fields—namely polio, HIV, and TB—and I was really interested in expanding from vaccine development into broader global health topics. My start date was a week after my thesis defense at MIT. I just couldn’t wait – I was really excited to get started.”

On her role at IV:

“My role with IDM is focused on research. The kind of research we do uses agent-based detail HIV models to answer questions about policy – things like the impact of increasing retention on HIV treatment, or trying to get more people who have been lost to care back into care. Things that incredibly enough, we still don’t know, such as: what are the most important ways that we need to improve the health system? I spend most of my time as a researcher exploring different hypotheses and analyzing data from different angles.”

On being a mentor:

“In addition to my research, I’ve also become a manager/supervisor/mentor on the HIV and TB teams, helping to guide different research questions. I look back on the great mentors I have had throughout my scientific career for ideas about how to support and motivate team members.”

On what inspires her work:

Three things. First, it’s the excitement of knowing that we’re really breaking new ground. Second, it’s our technical capacity. We are at this unique interface with software development, policy, and basic research. I think we have the opportunity to move things forward in a new direction. Third, and most of all, it’s my colleagues at IDM. We have an incredible team with an amazing culture. I’ve learned so much from my co-workers. There is a sense of feeling honored to get to do this sort of work, and it makes this place collaborative rather than competitive, even while pushing hard and feeling great pride in our work.”

Follow our Behind the Breakthrough series by subscribing to our IV Insights blog, and check out more quotes from inventors and scientists on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages


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From the Archives: Inventor Superhero Nikola Tesla

Sometimes we get a little nostalgic for our favorite posts in the archives. Over the course of the Insights blog we’ve profiled some incredible inventors, scientists and thinkers, and mused about big ideas in the intellectual property landscape. Throughout the next few months, we’ll be re-featuring some of our most popular posts. And, who better to kick off the series than Nikola Tesla? Read on to learn about his childhood hero, nemesis, and more:

Inventors are doers, but first they are thinkers. And while some invent gadgets, others invent systems. This IV inventor superhero thought long and hard about how to enhance the world we live in, and his inventions and system innovations are engrained in just about everything we use in modern life.

Inventor Superhero: Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)

Superpowers: Electrical currents, mathematics, radar technology, and energy conversion

Eureka! Moment: Tesla began his career in the 1800s in Budapest as an electrical engineer for a telephone company. He was fascinated with electricity, and one day while strolling through a park with a friend, he had a flash of genius that set a course for his life’s work: Tesla unraveled the solution to the rotating magnetic field. He stopped along his walk, grabbed a stick, and drew a diagram in the sand that explained the principles of the induction motor.

Superhero Lair: Wardenclyffe  — Tesla’s red brick laboratory on Long Island, NY, where he worked to establish a wireless telegraphy plant. Today, Wardenclyffe is Tesla’s only remaining lab building. In 2012, the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, in collaboration with internet cartoonist Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) launched a campaign to purchase and restore the property.

Cool Gadget/Systems: Tesla invented the alternating current electrical system, which is still widely used around the world. He also developed the Tesla coil, a system of generators, and he harnessed the power of Niagara Falls by creating the first-ever hydroelectric power plant.

Childhood Hero: While we can’t confirm that Tesla’s hero was his mother, we know he gained his inventiveness and interest in electrical technology from her. Djuka Mandic was known for her creations and modifications of household appliances.

Nemesis: Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla consistently butted heads over direct and alternating current. Even though Tesla came to the United Stated to study alongside Edison, they eventually split paths due to their conflicting, insistent beliefs on the most efficient type of current. In the end, Tesla was the unsung victor.

Who’s your favorite inventor superhero? Let us know who we should profile next @IVinvents.


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News You Can Use: All Inventions Big and Small

This week’s news you can use celebrates a broad scope of inventions. From accidental inventions to the process of creating Big Science capabilities, new ideas are constantly changing how we perceive and understand the world. 

An accidental invention to “cure” colorblindness

This month, Smithsonian Magazine has the story about an accidental discovery that’s led to glasses that correct colorblindness. Originally developed for surgeons to protect their eyes during laser surgery and help them differentiate between blood and tissue, the glasses were so popular that many started wearing them outside of the operating room. But no one discovered how they could help with colorblindness until a colorblind friend of the scientist who engineered the material borrowed his “sunglasses.” Much to the friend’s surprise, he could see orange for the very first time.

New book, Big Science, discusses the highlights of invention on the grandest scale

This past Sunday, The New York Times reviewed a new book that discusses the inventions behind big science and the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of innovation. Big Science by Michael Hiltzik talks about the history of huge science projects like cyclotrons, the Superconducting Supercollider, and ITER. The book’s themes show how scientists, engineers and inventors have worked together to create incredible capabilities.

American History Museum launches “Places of Invention” exhibit

If you’re in the Washington, D.C. area anytime soon, be sure to stop by the American History Museum to check out its new exhibit about American ingenuity. Using stories and anecdotes, the exhibit focuses on people and places that have pursued new ideas throughout history. And it includes stories from all across the United States – from the invention of precision manufacturing in Hartford, Connecticut in the late 1800s to clean energy innovations in Fort Collins, Colorado in the 2010s.

Check out this article from The Washington Post that highlights what to look for at the exhibit.

Want to learn more about how IV encourages interdisciplinary invention? Our recent post on how we approach invention sessions offers some insight into one of our processes.

News You Can Use

Intellectual Ventures regularly shares roundups of invention and intellectual property news. To read the other posts in this series, see below:


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Behind the Breakthrough: Tola Marts

This week’s Behind the Breakthrough profiles Tola Marts, an IV Engineering Manager in the Devices Platform Group (DPG), which designs and tests new products that improve global health and global development. Tola’s technical engineering background is complemented by his previous experience in engineering software sales. When he’s not working on state of the art designs and experiments, Tola spends his spare time as an elected Councilmember for the city of Issaquah, Washington

Here are some of his reflections:

On his background:

“I received a degree in mechanical engineering and then took a job selling and providing support for engineering computer programs; specifically, finite element analysis (FEA) and rigid body dynamics (RBD). FEA deals with creating mathematical models of physical prototypes to figure out how and when they will bend, break, or otherwise structurally deform. RBD is all about determining the effect of external forces on a mechanical system. However, you never really get to see the fruit of your labors as a salesperson, so I decided to try my hand in the aerospace industry. For the next eight years, I worked as a practicing engineer for Blue Origin in Kent, Washington. There, I was able to drive good ideas into real hardware, or in this case, scribbles on a cocktail napkin to spacecraft.” One of the vehicles for which Tola was the lead mechanical engineer is currently on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

On his work at IV Lab:

“I oversee a group of highly skilled electrical and mechanical engineers who work on a wide range of projects – vaccine logistics, high efficiency pediatric diagnostic and therapeutic tools, innovative ways to rethink dairy and animal husbandry technologies, and more. The common denominator is developing technologies that directly touch patients, farmers, or merchants and that incorporate our on-the-ground experience in the developing world to make products that will be easy to adopt, use, and change lives.

“I am constantly impressed by IV Lab’s ability to integrate and coordinate intellect from many different fields. When you bring together a bunch of brilliant people, it often devolves into huge ego clashes and gridlock. But at the Lab, each person is able to bring something to the table and work constructively toward a common goal.”  

On how his experience as a Councilmember impacts his work at IV:

“Working on the City Council benefits my work with IV Lab and vice versa. The City Council has allowed me to better understand differing points of view. In turn, I’ve figured out how to address and incorporate different viewpoints at IV Lab without derailing what I’m trying to accomplish. On the flip side, I have become more comfortable requiring success metrics and closed loop processes in the goals and resulting programs that we enact for the city. Staff and outside consultants know they better have their math right when they bring me a request or a recommendation!”

Follow our Behind the Breakthrough series by subscribing to our IV Insights blog, and check out more quotes from inventors and scientists on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. 


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Deep Freeze Arktek Noted in PBS NewsHour Ebola Series

IV’s latest passive vaccine storage device, or Arktek™, as it’s now known, has had a big year so far. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control tagged the Arktek to help make Ebola vaccine trials in Sierra Leone and Guinea possible.

In the PBS NewsHour segment, “Why testing an Ebola vaccine isn’t so easy,” science correspondent Miles O'Brian reports on the challenges of conducting experimental drug trials in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Deep Freeze Arktek is noted at the 1:30 mark of the video below.

The Arktek is allowing researchers on the ground in Africa to determine the efficacy of Ebola vaccine candidates. An important requirement in keeping the Ebola vaccine effective throughout the trials is keeping the vaccines at appropriate temperatures until being thawed for injection. And these vaccines require unusually low temperatures during storage, transportation, and distribution.

Prior to its use in vaccine trials, the WHO awarded the Arktek prequalified status, an important prerequisite to introducing the device to most countries in the developing world. The status is effectively a stamp of approval for real-world use, and it’s enabling the Arktek, as well as modified versions, to be used on the ground in the fight against other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Without the unique cold chain properties of the Arktek, it would not be possible to maintain the necessary temperatures to transport and distribute the Ebola vaccine candidates in remote areas without reliable electricity, where they require storage at temperatures below -60°C (-76°F) for a number of days before use. We’re grateful to the scientists and engineers who’ve worked diligently to address the challenging problems that come with the territory when keeping something so cold for so long without power.

To stay up-to-date on the latest information about the Arktek and more, be sure to check out the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory’s blog, where this post first appeared. The IV Lab routinely publishes news about the people, machines and ideas that it brings to life each day.


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Breaking It Down: Invention Sessions

A physicist, a research scientist, a physician, and a few inventors walk into a room. This could be the beginning of an IV joke, but it’s also our process of bringing together top innovators and inventors to brainstorm. We call these meetings “Invention Sessions” and our goal for them is clear: think of new solutions to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. Sounds daunting, right? But when we put brilliant minds from various backgrounds together, the potential is truly unlimited.

Breaking It Down: Invention Sessions

Here’s how our Invention Sessions work: one or two times per month we invite a handful of inventors, innovators, and experts from numerous fields to a conference room. Each session has a general topic, but we keep it vague to give participants, often including IV founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold, the most room to generate new ideas. While session topics usually focus on a conventional challenge that has remained for many years, the discussion can move quickly to encompass other related or even unrelated challenges.

After everyone is seated and briefed, ideas are rapidly thrown out at will, which are then critiqued by the group as a whole. This process is certainly unique, but refining abstract ideas has created brilliant new ones. In fact, every session produces patentable ideas to help solve real world problems that will make positive societal change. Take, for example, our work with metamaterials. For more than a decade, IV has used invention sessions to innovate and explore the commercial possibilities of this technology. As a result, we’ve spun-out three companies – Evolv, Kymeta, and most recently, Echodyne – and are continuing to work closely with our partners at Duke University, University of California at San Diego, and Imperial College to understand further the great potential of metamaterials. 

Invention Sessions are just one amazing facet of Intellectual Ventures, and though a bit unconventional, they often yield amazing results.

For more on IV’s spin-outs, please visit: http://www.intellectualventures.com/inventions-patents/spinouts-programs.


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Behind the Breakthrough: Manan Shukla

This week’s Behind the Breakthrough profiles Manan Shukla, an associate commercialization lead at Global Good. Manan was born in a small village in India and was raised and educated in the United States. He draws on his early years in India as he travels throughout Africa to speak with farmers and improve the products designed for them.

Behind the Breakthrough: Manan Shukla

Prior to Intellectual Ventures, Manan worked as a management consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington DC, San Diego, and Hawaii. His background in finance and business helps him to look at the viability of the IV Lab’s inventions on a global scale. He finds it gratifying to distribute the next breakthrough to those who need it most.

Here are some of his reflections:

On his role at IV:

At Global Good, I focus on commercializing the technology that’s developed at the IV Lab. We make really cool products that are novel and benefit society. Prior to my current role, I was involved early in our work on milking and its transportation. This role in particular took me to Africa on multiple occasions to meet with farmers, hear and see their challenges, and implement the product based on what we learned. Over the last three years, I’ve been able to visit nine countries in total and my job at IV has truly been a life-changing experience.

On the biggest challenge he faces:

Creating a useful new technology is already challenging enough, but then we have to figure out sales and distribution and ultimately get it into the right hands. To accomplish all of this, we have to survey the landscape diligently to ensure that the product will even be used. This involves studying the entire value chain, learning the gaps, and coming up with ideas that are well-suited for accomplishing specific challenges in countries. But all of this pays off! When you do the hard work and break down every angle, that’s when you make the biggest impact.

On what inspires him:

Global Good’s work inspires me. We are a mission-driven organization that aims to make lives easier all over the world. It really grounds me when I meet with end-users and hear their feedback about our work. They are excited about what we are doing because it positively impacts them. For example, we’ve heard from numerous people who are so grateful for having vaccines because of our passive vaccine storage device, Arktek. And dairy farmers consistently tell me that our work will improve their farming and livelihood. Meeting our end-users makes me realize that what we do matters. It’s inspiring. It’s why I always tell people that I have my dream job.

Follow our Behind the Breakthrough series by subscribing to our IV Insights blog, and check out more quotes from inventors and scientists on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. 


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IV Partner Update: REFLX

In October 2014 IV entered into a strategic partnership with Reflx Labs to innovate new applications of Boogio and expand Reflx's IP portfolio and position. Jose Torres, the co-founder and CEO of Reflx Labs, discusses the company’s recent momentum and ongoing partnership with IV.

Reflx Labs develops technologies for human instrumentation in order to better understand and characterize the body through sensor data. We are currently working on Boogio, a wearable technology for your feet. Boogio is a pair of tiny computers with thin sensors that you install in any shoe. Boogio also accurately captures body mechanics and can sense balance, force, and 3d movement of the foot. The core technology has applications in virtual reality, training, rehab, and enterprise solutions. 

Last month at the IoT World conference, we announced a partnership with Samsung to help launch the ARTIK family of IoT-ready modules. The chips will power small things, like wearables, to much larger systems, like buildings and farms. Boogio is developing with ARTIK-1, an ultra low powered module on a chip the size of a ladybug, to build the next generation of our hardware. During the keynote with Samsung, President Young Sohn invited me on stage to showcase Boogio and announce our partnership with Florida Hospital to improve pediatric rehabilitation (see 31:34 mark).

The ongoing collaboration with Florida Hospital will explore how to utilize the technology in digital health and capitalize on meaningful engagement with the patient within and outside the hospital walls. We hope to build on this biomechanical data and apply it to other areas including advanced athletic training or more immersive virtual reality experiences.

Image of the Boogio Status Monitor.

The next revolution of computing is already in the US, and as wearable sensors become commodity technology they will reach broader consumer markets and impact most people on the planet. The personal nature of wearable technology also means that culture and location have significant impact on the technology’s value proposition, and determine which applications will gain local marketplace acceptance.

Because Boogio is on the leading edge of technology commercialization, we are leveraging IV's global inventor network to solve challenges and explore applications worldwide. This network of geographically and culturally diverse, visionary thinkers can help bring a holistic approach to rapidly advancing adoption of Boogio’s technology worldwide.

Sign up at https://boogio.com/ to be the first to try Boogio. More information about the opportunity to invent for Intellectual Ventures can be found at: http://ivin.intven.com.


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Founding Fathers: Revolutionary Inventors

This Fourth of July marks 239 years since the Founding Fathers declared independence from Great Britain. Eleven years later, they drafted the United States Constitution. There’s no doubt that these achievements are historic – many would say legendary.

But our Founding Fathers were revolutionary in more ways than one. That’s why, in honor of Independence Day, we’d like to highlight a few of the Founding Fathers who not only thought of the constitutional Patent Clause, the foundation of the American IP system, but also proudly invented prolifically.

Benjamin Franklin

An expert in numerous subjects, Benjamin Franklin was truly a renaissance man. And one of his interests, electricity, produced a groundbreaking technology – the lighting rod. At the time, scientists only theorized that lightning bolts were made of electricity, and Mr. Franklin made it his goal to confirm the hypothesis.

The invention of the lightning rod not only confirmed that lightning was electric, but also proved to be pivotal for the protection of buildings and other structures. His design was so impressive that the next generation of lightning rods weren’t created until more than 150 years later when Nikola Tesla patented an improvement. That’s quite an impressive feat, even for someone who invented groundbreaking stoves, bifocal glasses, and numerous other innovations.

George Washington

The Continental Army’s Commander-in-Chief and our nation’s first president isn’t often thought of as an inventor. But as a farmer, George Washington always looked for ways to improve efficiency on his 8,000 acre estate. At the time, separating grain from stalk was an arduous task. The easiest method involved letting horses literally trample the grain. Though this method was faster, it was still inefficient. So Washington invented the 16-sided-barn, a two-story structure that left spaces between the floorboards on the second floor. That way when the horses trampled the grain, the separated product fell through the granary to the bottom floor. There it was stored, winnowed, and shipped to the mill for processing. The result was a machine-like increase in efficiency. Why 16-sides? Washington wanted a circle for the horses to run around, coupled with a design that provided an easier build.

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine’s major achievements include designing the second iron bridge in human history. He also developed a smokeless candle and worked on early engine designs. These are incredible feats, especially for someone who was already the best-selling American author of the era. Paine’s revolutionary pamphlet, Common Sense, sold 120,000 copies in its first three months of publication. To put that in perspective, the nation’s population at the time was just three million. We think it’s certainly not a stretch to call Mr. Paine one of the most innovative Founding Fathers!

Want to learn more about American invention and innovation? Check out the Men of Progress painting, a famous tribute to some of the 19th century’s greatest minds. And don’t forget to ride along as we profile some of the best and brightest innovators of the modern world. Happy Fourth of July!

 


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