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Echodyne Spins Out from Intellectual Ventures

If you’ve been following IV’s spin-out story, you know that one area of focus for our company has been around developing and commercializing metamaterials, which are artificial materials that can manipulate electromagnetic radiation in a variety of useful ways.

Our first endeavor was spinning out Kymeta in 2012, a company that develops Metamaterials Surface Antenna Technology (MSA-T), to enable satellite connected broadband Internet on the go, anywhere in the world. This was followed in 2013 by our spin-out Evolv, which commercializes metamaterials-based imaging and detection technology for use in airports and other high-risk facilities. On the heels of Evolv, we also established the Metamaterials Commercialization Center (MCC), which is a team of engineers, physicists, and scientists dedicated to furthering the development and commercial readiness of our metamaterials inventions.

To date, the MCC has been primarily focused on exploring nearer-term applications of metamaterials technology to address an identifiable customer need. I’m very proud of all that we’ve accomplished in just a few short years and am pleased to announce that today, we’ve added another chapter to our story with the launch of IV’s third metamaterials spin-out and fourth overall, Echodyne. 

Led by co-founders Eben Frankenberg (CEO) and Tom Driscoll (CTO), two former IV colleagues, Echodyne will bring metamaterials-based radar systems to market. The company recently closed an initial $15 million funding round led by Bill Gates and Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Vulcan Capital, Lux Capital, The Kresge Foundation, and others.

We see tremendous promise around metamaterials and in addition to the three companies we’ve already spun-out, are continuing to work closely with our partners at Duke University, University of California at San Diego, and Imperial College to explore further the great potential of this technology. Please continue to follow us on this very exciting journey.

You can learn more about IV’s spin-outs here.


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A Cool Way to Combat Ebola

Healthcare professionals who are treating Ebola patients protect themselves from virus exposure by wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including double-layer gloves, coveralls, and boots. Imagine what that must feel like to those who are on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa’s hot temperatures. Changing equipment offers brief relief, but it’s a lengthy process and potentially puts workers at risk of infection each time their skin is exposed.

A Cool Way to Combat Ebola

Ebola virions (PLos Biology, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030403.g001)

In an effort to make PPEs more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time – and to keep the risk of exposure at bay – Intellectual Ventures’ Global Good program is partnering with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to test and integrate new PPE cooling technology, including:

Phase-Change Material Cooling Solutions: Currently being used by the military, this garment could provide an off-the-shelf, rapidly deployable cooling solution that can be worn underneath existing PPE.

Arterial Cooling Base Layer System: This innovative base layer cooling system from sports-wear company Qore Performance, Inc., cools the body by cooling the blood at pulse points.

A wide range of approaches will be needed to ultimately put the Ebola outbreak in check – from vaccines to education to new healthcare technologies. Learn more about efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak from:

The World Health Organization 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The White House

Grand Challenges

The New York Times

 


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A Holiday Gift Guide for Inventors

The time is near for holiday cheer, and it’s in the spirit of giving that we’ll ring in a new year. Wrapping paper and ribbon are sure to be abundant, but think to yourself: “Are my gifts getting redundant?” Grab your shopping lists and throw them away, because Intellectual Ventures has a list to fill your whole sleigh. The techies, the nerds, and the scientists, too, this gift guide was made exactly for you. 

A Holiday Gift Guide for Inventors

For the Robot Enthusiast: Electric Paint

The perfect wiring solution for your robot comes in a tube. Now you can connect circuits with ease and allow currents to travel through dried electric paint. If you are participating in a FIRST Robotics competition, then perhaps this is the perfect secret weapon to lead your team to success.

 

For the Futurist: Iron Man-Inspired Holographic User Interface

The one and only Tony Stark used a holographic interface in Iron Man 2, but it just so happens that Elon Musk built something similar last year.

 

For the Young Magician: Wand Remote Control

Stop clicking buttons like an average human being. This wand remote control has thirteen different movements you can learn to control your television Harry Potter style.

 

For the Young Girl Inventor: GoldieBlox

Goldie, the girl inventor who loves to build, can help your daughter learn to build a zipline, a movie machine, or … beware … a dunk tank.

 

For the Seattleite: Tech Books

Those of us based in Intellectual Ventures’ Washington offices are big fans of Ada’s Technical Books. Named after the famous inventor Ada Lovelace, this bookstore is filled floor to ceiling with geeky delights—from great technical books to mind-boggling puzzles.

 

For the Newborn: Patent Pending Onsie
Because your tyke is one of a kind.

 

For the Machinist: Mega Shop Tools

You’ll have to boot your car to the curb when these gifts arrive. But you’ll be the envy of your entire neighborhood with a garage equipped with expert-level tools. See if you can fit these into the sleigh: Romi LatheTrak MillHaas Vertical Machining Center.

 

For Dads: Nikola Tesla Tie
Nikola Tesla is one of the greatest inventors of all time. Who wouldn’t want to wear his image on a necktie?

 

For the Nine-to-Fiver: Patent Prints
Do you like Legos, light sabers, or Les Paul electric guitars? There’s a patent for that, and you can show your colleagues your true geekiness by decorating your office with patent drawings of your favorite things.

 

For the Serious Doer: Makerbot Digitizer

If you’re the type of person who comes up with an idea and immediately wants it to come to life, then you need a Makerbot Digitizer. With the ease of two clicks you can turn your design into a 3D model for sharing and modifying.

So, there you have it. Search no more. Here’s hoping this gift guide saves you an aimless trek through the store. We wish you a season full of joys, and one that brings you inventive toys!

 


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News You Can Use

University spinouts and start-up companies that recognize the importance of capitalizing on intellectual property can be incredibly successful ventures. In this week’s News You Can Use, we’re highlighting stories about the value patents bring to both entrepreneurs and academic institutions.

News You Can Use

Helping University Spinouts Succeed

It’s no secret that colleges and universities are hubs of innovative thought. It makes sense, then, that spin-out companies often form from the ideas incubated in campus classrooms. This week The Guardian explores how academics seek investors to help transform their inventions into successful businesses. “Many universities now have departments or even businesses that help academics turn their ideas into commercial propositions,” the article reports.

Why Start-Ups Need Intellectual Property

How can entrepreneurs give their new businesses the best shot at longevity? According to Forbes, intellectual property plays a big role in attracting the kind of investors that provide long-term value to new ventures. The article points to universities, with their deep wells of intellectual property, as key targets for new companies seeking valuable partnerships.  

Thinking Creatively About Inspiring Innovation

How can savvy business executives identify the best way to cultivate innovation? It depends on the company, but an open mind is always useful. The paradigm of innovation being located in a brick-and-mortar research and development environment is shifting to an “adaptive, globally dispersed [approach] to access critical knowledge from different markets, industries, and emerging innovation hot spots.” Harvard Business Review takes a deep dive into the idea that having a single channel strategy for innovation makes the challenge of acquiring knowledge much harder.

@IVinvents shares IP and tech innovation news every week. Follow along, and let us know what you’ve been reading, too. 


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A Renewed Focus on Patent Quality

With the 114th Congress starting in January, patent “reformers” have stepped up their cries for legislation aimed at altering the enforceability of U.S. patents. Hearing those cries, lawmakers are again debating ways to reduce patent litigation by tinkering with the management U.S. judges exercise over the patent cases pending in their courtrooms. While the effort on Capitol Hill proposes to reduce patent disputes by making changes to the tail end of the system, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has taken a different tack. 

A Renewed Focus on Patent Quality

Through the Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholars program, the Patent Office is studying how to reduce litigation by improving the way patents are written and how they are granted. At an event earlier this week, three visiting scholars outlined their research efforts including a study designed to bring more clarity to patent boundaries and research examining how to use high-powered data analysis to uncover prior art. 

Good fences make good neighbors, so in making patent rights more certain, patent disputes can be resolved long before they reach the courtroom, making patent licensing and technology transfer more efficient and allowing companies easier access to the patents they need.

While the seemingly endless patent debate continues in Congress, the Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholars Program is just one example of the many ways in which the Patent Office, the Courts, and the business community are quietly, but effectively and efficiently, improving our patent system without the need for legislation to micromanage the judiciary.


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News You Can Use

Executives play a key role in setting the tone for their companies when it comes to fostering innovative environments. In this edition of News You Can Use, we’re highlighting interesting stories from the past week focusing on the C-suite’s outlook on innovation.

News You Can Use

The Importance of a Chief Innovation Officer

Even companies well-versed in best management practices can struggle with how to stoke innovative thought. This is where a strong Chief Innovation Officer comes into play. Alessandro Di Fiore, writing in Harvard Business Review, explores the need for a “powerful executive who can counterbalance the natural killing instinct of a company’s business units and design a more innovation-friendly organizational environment.” Drawing on research at the European Center for Strategic Innovation he outlines a framework for success.

Looking to the Past to Shape the Future

What is most likely to fuel an inventor’s “eureka moment”? The Financial Times reports that some of the most influential innovations aren’t pulled from the sky, but rather result from careful assessment of how to leverage existing ideas in novel ways. The article points out that innovative ideas often come from unexpected places; the key for the C-suite and innovators alike is to keep an open mind about how unique partnerships or influencers could spur new thinking.

Business Bets on Innovation

Inc. reports that large, multinational corporations plan to spend more on “breakthrough” R&D over the next decade. According to a survey by Strategy&, business leaders plan to increase their investment in this high-risk, high-reward category of R&D by roughly 50 percent. Executives’ decision to prioritize radical innovations demonstrates their assessment that developing cutting-edge intellectual property positions their companies for long-term growth.

For a more in-depth look at IP resources for executives, check out our post from August.

@IVinvents shares IP and tech innovation news every week. Follow along, and let us know what you’ve been reading, too. 


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IV’s Favorite Inventions: Fire Hoses

Two of the most powerful natural elements on Earth are arguably water and fire. What can stand between these two elements is often simply a tube — that is, a fire hose. Intellectual Ventures has several antique fire nozzles on display at our Bellevue headquarters, and this invention’s unique ability to connect two dominant forces makes it one of IV’s favorites.

IV’s Favorite Inventions: Fire Hoses

We’ve probably all seen the photos in our history books of townspeople passing buckets of water back and forth to douse a house fire. There were few other options for firefighting until Jan van der Heiden and his son Nicholaas invented the first fire hose in 1673. Their hose was 50 feet long, created from leather tubes sewn together, and attached to gooseneck nozzles on engines that pushed through water. However, the Heiden hose and many of the hoses that followed were often heavy, cumbersome, and unstable.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that advances in hoses began to (ahem) catch fire. The Philadelphia Hose Company began using water mains in 1803 to provide water sources closer to potential fires. In 1807, two American firemen banded a hose’s seam using metal rivets instead of traditional stitching, which led to stronger and more durable products with fewer leaks.

In 1821, inventor James Boyd patented his design for a rubber-lined, cotton-webbed fire hose.  In 1838, Charles Goodyear discovered that rubber could be converted into a more durable material through the vulcanization process, and shortly afterwards, BF Goodrich created a rubber hose reinforced with cotton ply. More improvements followed, and by the early 1900s, lighter linen hoses were becoming the norm.

Today, hoses are a mix of their predecessors — modern hoses usually include a fabric outer layer that envelops a rubber tube. Whether you favor its lifesaving potential or its duality — both in its structure and in the elements it connects — the fire hose is a powerful invention. 


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Happy Holidays from Intellectual Ventures

As we head into the holidays, I wanted to take a moment to recognize all the inventors, customers, partners, and STEM supporters we have the opportunity to work with every day in our quest to drive the world’s invention economy forward.

Happy Holidays from Intellectual Ventures

Through our collective contributions and diligent work together, we’re creating a market for invention – where inventors are laying the foundation for solving the world’s problems both big and small. In honor of the upcoming holiday season and on behalf of everyone at Intellectual Ventures, I want to thank you for your partnership and shared belief that invention creates opportunity.

We wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season.


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News You Can Use

In this week’s News You Can Use, we’re highlighting interesting stories about the relationship between entrepreneurship and innovation. Learn why millennials are prioritizing entrepreneurship more than previous generations, why patents are an untapped asset for startups, and how the UK hopes to encourage more collaboration between product manufacturers and innovators.

News You Can Use

Entrepreneurial Millennials and the C-Suite
According to a new survey profiled in Forbes, millennials are placing greater priority on entrepreneurship than previous generations. The article reports that many millennials believe that business ownership offers them the best opportunity to preserve a creative work environment, innovate, and develop business acumen quickly. But as a result, few millennials report planning to work their way up the ranks at the same company:

“Only 13% of survey respondents said their career goal involves climbing the corporate ladder to become a CEO or president. By contrast, almost two-thirds (67%) said their goal involves starting their own business.”

Patents as Untapped Source of Cash
Our own Raymond Hegarty, IV vice president of global licensing, was quoted in a Science Business story this week about how young start-ups can fund growth and gain credibility with investors through licensing and patents. Licensing demonstrates value and shows a product is “proven and viable,” says Hegarty. “At the same time, because you bring cash in, you may not need to give a piece of your company to investors anymore — you might be able to fund it from licensing those ideas.”

British NGO Calls for Additional Funding for “Innovate UK”
EEF, the British association for engineer and manufacturing companies, is calling for increased support for manufacturers seeking capital to fund innovation through Innovate UK, the government agency that helps encourage technological development. The Telegraph reports that the competitive program solicits applications from entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers to collaborate on research and development of new products. The program is part of a strategy to emphasize innovation as a key driver of the British economy.

Interested in how patents help entrepreneurs? Check out some of our previous work on the subject here, as well as stories about young entrepreneurs and how they’re following their dreams.

@IVinvents shares IP and tech innovation news every week. Follow along, and let us know what you’ve been reading, too.


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Inventor Superhero: Nikola Tesla

Inventors are doers, but first they are thinkers. And while some invent gadgets, others invent systems. This month’s 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

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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Casey Tegreene

Casey Tegreene

Casey Tegreene is the executive vice president and chief patent counsel for the Invention Science Fund (ISF) at Intellectual Ventures.

Russ Merbeth

Russ Merbeth

Russ Merbeth is chief policy counsel for Intellectual Ventures.

Adriane Brown

Adriane Brown

Adriane Brown is the President and COO of Intellectual Ventures.

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