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Next Gen Inventing: StudentRND and CodeDay

24 hours (straight). 25 cities (at once). More than 10,000 innovative youth setting their minds to developing something new (in teams). What could be better for the future of invention? At Intellectual Ventures, we take pride in mentoring the next generation of inventors. So when an event commits to jumpstarting a lifelong interest in inventing among students, we’re quick to take notice.

IV proudly sponsors StudentRND’s CodeDay, which is happening this weekend, beginning at noon on May 23 and running for 24 hours straight in 25 cities around the country simultaneously. This fantastic event brings together coders of all experience levels to form teams to work on new ideas. But the best part of CodeDay is its ability to create networks for young people with common interests. These communities offer support for students as they continue to invent.

Last month, we featured Pat Pataranutaporn in our Behind the Breakthrough series. Pat is a biology student and an active inventor at Arizona State University, and he recently participated in a CodeDay. Here’s what Pat had to say about the value of the StudentRND and CodeDay networks:

“To me, invention means creating something that is good for humankind in any form, whether it’s abstract like a computer algorithm or something more solid, like a robot. Invention ideas are often improved with collaboration and StudentRND is really helpful because it provides such a powerful community. Being surrounded by people who share similar inventing interests is both beneficial and inspiring.”

During National Inventors’ Month, it’s especially important to keep the inventors of the future top-of-mind. Mentorship and STEM education play important roles in continuing to encourage young people to pursue their most innovative dreams. IV encourages everyone to support and encourage the young inventors in their lives.

Want to learn more about CodeDay or find an event in a city near you? Check out their FAQ.

The image and video featured in this post are courtesy of StudentRND.


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Behind the Breakthrough: Phyllis Turner-Brim

This week’s Behind the Breakthrough features IV’s outstanding Chief IP Counsel and Vice President, Phyllis Turner-Brim. Phyllis’s wealth of experience in product development and intellectual property law gives her a thorough understanding of the major issues facing inventors and innovators all over the world. As a notable figure and expert in patent law, Phyllis often speaks at conferences across the country on topics ranging from leadership to the future of patent licensing. At IV, her work is integral to bringing breakthroughs to fruition.

Here are some of her reflections:

On her career change to intellectual property law:

“I worked in product industry research for quite a few years. I loved the variety and learning about new technologies. After a while, it became clear that I could use my experience and skills in a unique way. So I went to law school and became a patent lawyer, bridging law with my background in technology and business. And I love it! It still fascinates me that IP and business are so interconnected, especially within the past decade. Think of it this way – each patent is an investment, which means there is an opportunity for a return if the innovation supports it.”

On how the market supports innovation:

“A strong patent system supports innovation. An inventor always has a reasonable expectation that their invention won’t be used without their permission unless they are compensated fairly. Successful inventions allow inventors to reinvest the money a purchaser provided into a business or new invention. Providing liquid secondary markets in IP actually support innovation. Here is a unique example: IV coordinated a consortium to acquire Kodak’s patents some years ago. This was critical because it provided Kodak, which was struggling financially at the time, with a substantial infusion of cash that could be used to restructure its business effectively.”

On explaining the value of IP to younger generations:

“We are part of an innovation society today, in large part because of young people. If we passionately explain to younger generations that they have the unique ability to develop technologies that can be leveraged for monetization, it would go a long way. Additionally, we need to educate younger individuals about innovation and invention, and patents in general. This will make them better “IP citizens” in the sense that they will understand how to obtain their own IP rights. They will also understand why respecting the IP rights of others is so important. It all comes down to education. Our younger generations are enthusiastic and intelligent. I have a lot of faith in them to not only understand and defend IP rights, but also to lead our innovative future.”

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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Celebrating National Inventors’ Month with Insights from Behind the Breakthrough

At Intellectual Ventures, inventors – and their ideas – are integral to our mission of furthering the invention economy to drive innovation around the world. So in March, we premiered a new series called Behind the Breakthrough to highlight the people behind the ideas. In this post, we take a look back at a handful of the conversations we’ve had to showcase the inventions that sparked our discussions.

Clockwise from L to R: Dr. Gregory Phelan, Mike Manion, Jake Russell, Dr. David Paranchych

 

You’ll see that though the following inventors differ greatly in their areas of interest, all have a vision for the future of invention. Take a look:

Greg Phelan

Invention focus: Finding alternatives to BPA-based polymers for food packaging, baby bottles, and other products.

Position: Associate Professor & Chair of the Chemistry Department, State University of New York College at Cortland

“I think the future of invention will involve interdisciplinary teams of subject matter and invention experts working on a problem instead of traditional R&D teams sequestered in an isolated laboratory. Crowdsourcing and cooperative problem solving are powerful and engaging tools for innovation. If we can think of best ways to harness that creative energy, we can make very significant and disruptive technologies sooner rather than later.”

Mike Manion

Invention focus: Leveraging his background in biology and physiology to invent to solve big problems.

Position: Inventor & Portfolio Investment Manager and Consultant to IV’s Invention Development Fund

“Beyond the general love of inventing, I’m an inventor because I want to create things that deliver important value to society. My team and I strive to make a meaningful impact wherever we can – the medical world, materials, energy, anywhere. So my work is something I love to do and it makes the world a better place. It’s a great combination.”

Jake Russell

Invention focus: Developing new software.

Position: Invention Development Manager, Intellectual Ventures

“The youngest inventors are, in fact, kids of any age who are interested in how things work. My advice for them is to find something you’re passionate about and pursue it creatively. With a hands-on approach, you can easily experiment to increase your knowledge – and that process is the very first step to being an inventor.”

Dave Paranchych

Invention focus: Improving cellular networks – including working with CDMA and LTE technology.

Position: Engineering Director, Intellectual Ventures

“Creating a new idea is always a challenge. The good news is you don’t have to do everything on your own. Teamwork offers the opportunity to bounce new ideas off of others. Plus, teamwork can bring people with entirely different backgrounds together to invent something exceptional. For example, one person might have expertise in wireless communication and another in cloud computing. Put them together, and what can’t they do?”

If you missed their full profiles, be sure to check out the links above. To get the latest updates on our Behind the Breakthrough series, subscribe 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 in the Community: May and June

We’ve got a busy spring and summer coming up at Intellectual Ventures, not the least of which is a diverse line-up of events we’ll be participating in over the next few months.

From the power of impact investing to the business of intellectual property (IP), we always welcome opportunities to speak to new audiences and talk with old friends about the power of invention and IP.

  • On May 12, senior vice president of Global Good and Research Maurizio Vecchione will participate in a panel on impact investing at the Cavendish Global Health Forum in La Jolla, California. The event brings together family offices and their foundations from around the world for focused conversations on sustainable philanthropy.
  • On May 13, director Troy Niehaus will also travel to La Jolla to speak on a panel about commercial success in advanced science and technology at the Licensing Executive Society (LES) Spring Meeting. LES is a membership organization of IP professionals, and its conferences provide a unique opportunity for peers to connect and discuss the latest issues impacting the industry. 
  • On June 12, CEO Nathan Myhrvold will give the 2015 college commencement address at UCLA in Los Angeles. Nathan received a bachelor’s in mathematics and a master’s degree in geophysics and space physics at UCLA before going on to get his PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics at Princeton, and he’s looking forward to returning to speak to this year’s new graduates.
  • Finally on June 15, Phyllis Turner-Brim, vice president and chief IP counsel, will participate in the opening panel discussion at IPBC’s Global Conference in San Francisco. Phyllis and the other distinguished speakers will talk with Michelle Lee, deputy director of the USPTO, about the current state of the invention ecosystem.

If you’re attending any of these conferences, we hope that you’ll join us in the discussions. For more information about IV speaking engagements or to inquire about a speaker for your event, please contact speakingrequests@intven.com


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Behind the Breakthrough: Pablos Holman

To kick off National Inventor’s Month, this week’s Behind the Breakthrough features super-inventor, hacker, and IV’s resident futurist Pablos Holman. More than a decade ago, Pablos helped create the world’s smallest personal computer – a precursor to modern smartphones and tablets. He maintains a passion for 3D printing, and worked as an advisor to Makerbot.

Behind the Breakthrough: Pablos Holman

Pablos joined IV in 2006, and puts his innovation acumen to good use in invention sessions and on projects including photonic fence technology and the StratoShield in the IV Lab. He focuses on inventing for what will be possible in five to 10 years – what he describes as the sweet spot for impactful invention.

Here are some of his reflections:

On the difficulty of invention

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!

On the role of collaboration in invention

Inventing as a group can be extraordinarily productive. My ideas get cross-pollinated with the knowledge and ideas of other inventors, and vice-versa. Sometimes it can take a dozen people to take an initial idea and morph it into a patentable invention. That is always a fascinating process – someone has an outside-the-box idea and we all harshly critique it and then offer constructive suggestions and suddenly it all clicks. I love this form of invention because I always have crazy-sounding initial ideas that sometimes end up having quite a bit of utility.

On advice he would give to young inventors

Any young person with a knack for learning can be an inventor. School and education are important because they teach you to learn. If young people can find a way to get interested in learning and then spend a lot of time doing it efficiently, they can go a very long way. They won’t have to worry about much else because they will be adaptable and always able to learn new things. My best advice is this: find anything that leads to learning and the rest will happen naturally. That is what makes learning and inventing so exciting – it never ends. It’s like getting new superpowers every single day.

To hear more from Pablos, check out his recent Q&A with Popular Science.

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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WTIA Member Profile: Intellectual Ventures

The Washington Technology Industry Association visited IV recently to talk with IV President and COO Adriane Brown and others about the business of inventing and intellectual property.


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Welcome Google. Seriously.

Google has announced that it will enter the market looking to purchase patents from individuals and small companies.  Of course, Google has long been in the market for larger portfolios – buying hundreds of patents from IBM, famously bidding $π billion in an attempt to purchase Nortel’s patents and spending $12.5 billion to purchase Motorola Mobility in large part for its patent portfolio.

Welcome Google. Seriously.

But with the alliteratively named Patent Purchase Promotion Google now asks smaller patent holders to step up, suggest a sales price and, with some luck, walk away with cash in hand in exchange for their IP. Google argues this new “experimental marketplace” will improve the patent landscape and put money in the hands of inventors.

Sound familiar? In the decade+ since Intellectual Ventures was founded, the market for patents has become anything but “experimental." Patents are trading hands every day, sometimes in blockbuster deals, but often one-by-one. There even exist dedicated patent brokerages specializing in identifying promising technology and connecting buyers and sellers. Intellectual Ventures alone has purchased more than 70,000 patents, putting billions of dollars into the hands of inventors, universities and companies, large and small.

Intellectual Ventures has long had a vision of “investing in invention.”   The benefits of a well-functioning market for invention have always been obvious to us, providing the ability for companies to quickly and easily buy, sell and license their patented inventions for a fair price. On the flip side, companies that need access to patented technologies can obtain the rights they need efficiently. This results in more money in the hands of those who invent, ultimately spurring more invention, job creation, economic growth and technological progress. Google’s patent purchasing efforts is another step toward accomplishing our long-term vision of creating a liquid capital market for invention.

Perhaps most notably, Google forthrightly states, in the associated FAQ, that “any patents purchased by Google through this program will join our portfolio and can be used by Google in all the normal ways that patents can be used (e.g., we can license them to others, etc.).”  In other words, Google is planning to buy patents on the open market and license them out in exchange for value.  This approach is anything but experimental – it is the exact same business model IV has been pursuing for years.  Nice to see the IV model adopted by one of the world’s largest companies (and Google needn’t worry – we don’t claim any proprietary rights to the model).

A robust market for invention requires willing buyers, willing sellers, and willing licensees using patented inventions. We’re pleased to see Google step up and join this market.  So welcome Google, to the patent marketplace.  We’re happy to have you on our side.


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News You Can Use – World Intellectual Property Day

Sunday, April 26 marked World Intellectual Property Day, a holiday that offers the opportunity to discuss how strong intellectual property protections promote creativity and drive innovation globally. Countries marked the occasion by hosting festivals, holding conferences, and reaffirming the importance of intellectual property creation to innovation

News You Can Use – World Intellectual Property Day

As always, the holiday is a great opportunity to thank inventors and innovators around the world for the contribution their hard work and intellect makes to the greater good. In honor of the occasion, this week’s News You Can Use includes stories about intellectual property trends and accolades.

New Study Evaluates Patent Trends

How has the process of creating intellectual property evolved over time? The Economist this week looks at the conclusions of a new paper by Oxford University researchers, which shows how inventing has changed over the years.

The authors found, using data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), that while nearly half of the patents in the 1800s were for almost entirely new ideas, 90 percent of patents today combine ideas for a new outcome (like Edison’s lightbulb, which used available technologies in a new way).  The study’s authors are the first to demonstrate this conclusion using data.

European Patent Office Announces Invention Awards Finalists

Quartz has a run-down of the European Patent Office’s finalists for its annual Invention Awards. The competition honors inventors whose ideas have made contributions to everyday life in one of nine distinct disciplines.

The 12 finalists include:

  • an inventor from France who patented a new window that can convert sunlight into heat in the winter, but also darkens in the summer to improve energy efficiency;
  • a UK-based inventor who developed a way to genetically control mosquitos to combat Dengue fever;
  • a Dutch inventor who pioneered self-healing concrete that repairs its own cracks; and
  • a French man who invented peanut paste to fight famine in developing countries.

Check out the full list here; the final awards will be announced on June 11.

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


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Funding Innovation for the Long Haul

Last month, Senator Dick Durbin and Representative Bill Foster of Illinois introduced a bill that would fund basic science research at five federal agencies to the tune of $100 billion over the next decade, including guaranteed annual increases of 5 percent over and above inflation. Senator Durbin and Congressman Foster believe that this increased long-term funding for basic R&D is essential to keeping the U.S. competitive in the global economy. I couldn’t agree more.

Funding Innovation for the Long Haul

But, given the hefty price tag, I think it’s important to point out that sustained government support is not just necessary for economic competitiveness. It’s also the most effective mechanism for generating the kind of deep innovation that changes our lives and the world.

This message runs counter to some popular perceptions about where invention comes from. Americans love to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit: the lone visionary with the grand idea, the start-up that becomes a multi-billion-dollar enterprise practically overnight. That’s the Silicon Valley culture so many emerging economies are trying to duplicate.

Yet the core innovations of the digital age weren’t produced by any single individual and certainly did not happen overnight. Research on semiconducting materials, chip designs, and fabrication methods required decades of effort from thousands of scientists and engineers. The U.S. government sponsored the lion’s share of this research through a microelectronics initiative at the Department of Defense. Billions of dollars in government contracts allowed companies and universities to engage in the mission-driven R&D development that led to the early start-ups of Silicon Valley.

Government funding also nurtured the precursors of the internet, GPS, and cloud-based computing, to name just a few of our device-loving society’s favorite things. The government was the first and often only customer for many other innovations that we now take for granted. Government-sponsored science laid the technical foundations for jet aviation and for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Government grants and contracts supported basic research on wind, solar, hydroelectric, and nuclear energy.

Such complex projects require inventions in many interdependent components, systems, and infrastructures, on a scale well beyond the reach of any lone genius or even a vast corporate entity. As I’ve explained elsewhere, only sustained, state-sponsored research initiatives can establish the incentive structure for driving broad and deep technological change. Scientists and their employers need the predictability and continuity of long (decade or more) public funding cycles to take huge risks and pursue diverse leads. They need defined goals and an overarching plan for progress so they can coordinate their efforts. Then, once the groundwork for a breakthrough has been prepared, the private sector gladly takes over, greatly multiplying the returns on the initial public investment.

This kind of narrative isn’t as simple or dramatic as the rise of a Silicon Valley mogul. Yet it’s a success story on a much larger scale—maybe so big that we may be losing sight of it. As Senator Durbin points out, accounting for inflation, federal funding for science has lost 20 percent in purchasing power in just three years. As a percentage of discretionary spending, it’s been declining for decades. And while the total (public and private) U.S. share of global R&D investment shrinks, China’s share keeps growing. China is forecast to outspend the U.S. on basic research by 2022.

Meanwhile, at the same time that we are under-investing as a nation in basic research, we are also pursuing policies that would undercut the enforceability of the intellectual property rights—the prized result of this research. That’s not a promising trend. Without strong IP protection, Americans will essentially be giving away discoveries that they paid for.

People around the world are waiting for inventions that will deliver clean water, sustainable energy, and quality healthcare. I’m hopeful that the U.S. and other countries will recognize the vital importance of sustained government funding for solving those and other complex problems. It’s a privilege to live in a nation that has both the brainpower and buying power to support the next age of invention. Now our elected officials need to join Senator Durbin and Congressman Foster in finding the willpower to do it.


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A World Free of Malaria?

Medical texts from as early as 2700 B.C. include descriptions of malaria—a disease caused by wily parasites transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. Scientists, inventors—even soldiers—have spent centuries searching for remedies and preventions against the disease that today affects nearly 200 million people annually, and is the leading cause of child mortality in the developing world. 

A World Free of Malaria?

Bed nets, antimalarial drugs, and insecticides have all helped to reduce the number of malaria cases, but no one approach has solved the problem. Scroll through some of the malaria interventions used throughout history:

 

In 2013, the global total of international and domestic funding for malaria alone was US$ 2.6 billion – but still less than half of what is needed for health interventions, according to the UN. 

At Intellectual Ventures, we believe it will take a variety of iterative and radical innovations to ultimately eradicate malaria. Global Good will continue to work with the Lighting Science Group to commercialize the photonic fence and pursue more accurate diagnostics platforms with GE, but on tomorrow’s World Malaria Day, there are so many efforts that should be applauded in the fight against both a preventable and a curable disease.

If you are interested in supporting an organization addressing malaria eradication, a good place to start is the UN’s Roll Back Malaria Partnership. Individual donors can learn more here and organizations can get involved here.


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Peter Detkin

Peter Detkin

Peter N. Detkin is a founder and vice-chairman of Intellectual Ventures, where he focuses on a variety of projects relating to intellectual property and invention.

Edward Jung

Edward Jung

Edward Jung is a founder and CTO of Intellectual Ventures.

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The US is getting left behind: "Companies’ R&D is moving away from the R toward the D.” nyti.ms/1ee0VbH

May 22

Young #inventors are the future: @RM_Wang’s invention prevents the spread of #disease on airplanes. ow.ly/Nc1Wn @washingtonpost

May 21

Thank you @StudentRND for teaching kids to code & encouraging the next generation of inventors! #NationalInventorsMonth

May 21