Intellectual Ventures Capitol Hill Tech Expo – A Breakthrough Success

Read on for a look at IV's recent “technology expo” on Capitol Hill where policy makers and staffers had the opportunity to see first-hand these breakthrough technologies.

Intellectual Ventures Capitol Hill Tech Expo – A Breakthrough Success

Guests of our "technology expo" mingle and learn.

What do the following have in common?

  • An ultra-efficient advanced nuclear reactor,
  • An advanced satellite antenna that will simplify satellite connections for broadband Internet on the go,
  • A laser-based insect-killing zapper machine that diminishes the spread of diseases like malaria
  • And a vaccine storage device that the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control feel could make Ebola vaccine trials in Sierra Leone and Guinea possible.

These diverse, independent and seemingly uncommon breakthrough technologies all originated at Intellectual Ventures.

On May 19, in honor of National Inventors Month, Intellectual Ventures hosted a “technology expo” featuring some of the spin-out, breakthrough technology companies whose origins started at the IV Lab and owe their existence to the unique business model that Intellectual Ventures has created.

The crowded Rayburn House Office Foyer served as host to several hundred Capitol Hill policy makers and staffers who had the opportunity to see first-hand these breakthrough technologies.

“Intellectual Ventures helps create a world in which invention can thrive through the shared commitment to research, collaboration, investment and defense of inventors’ rights,” said Russ Merbeth, Intellectual Ventures Chief Policy Counsel. “From IV’s inception in 2000, the ultimate goal was to build a scalable invention company that supports, nurtures and champions inventors, undertaking the hard work of creating breakthroughs, and these technologies are some of the fruits of that vision.”

On hand at the expo were representatives from TerraPower and IV’s Global Good and IV Lab team to illustrate that a commitment to invention can revolutionize how the world innovates when we create smart policies that protect the inventor and enable companies to commercialize world changing technologies that improve communities on a global scale.

Members of Congress like U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) saw first-hand at the expo how his support for a strong patent system has enabled the U.S. to remain in a leadership role for global innovation.

The day was closed by Ph. D. physicist and patent holder Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) who addressed the crowd and reinforced how vitally important protecting Intellectual Property rights are for the success of U.S. technology companies. We couldn’t agree more.

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News You Can Use: National Inventors Month Edition

We relish the opportunity during National Inventors Month to profile organizations, IV staff, and invention. Check out some of our favorite news stories from May. 

News You Can Use: National Inventors Month Edition

IV in the News

Arty Makagon speaks with Fast Company about the photonic fence and its debut at Hannover Messe.

SeattlePi profiles Intellectual Ventures and the Lab, speaking with Edward Jung and 3ric Johansson about technology including the photonic fence, the Mazzi can, and oxygen masks.

Courosh Mehanian details the Lab’s Autoscope that uses artificial intelligence to detect malaria for OZY.

GeekWire explains the use of metamaterials from IV spinout Echodyne.


MIT Sloan Management School profiles Honey Bajaj, a member of the Integrated Design and Management program at MIT, who finalized a design for a manual filter to melt snow into purified water.

NBC News highlights 14-year-old Taylor Rosenthal who created RecMed, a first-aid vending machine, and is waiting for the right partner to come along.  

Forbes honors the 16 inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

BizTech profiles 10 inspirational woman inventors, including Grace Hopper and Hedy Lamarr.


Two companies are seeking crowdfunding to help turn their innovations into reality. Reuters introduces us to a mosquito-repellent soap that seeks to wash away the malaria threat in Africa, and GMA News Online tells us about a mechanical bug remover to help increase yield and produce value.

And finally, Shaquille O’Neal gives some encouragement to a young inventor.

Want more News You Can Use? Follow us on Twitter and get the good stuff in real time. 

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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A Salute to Edisons Everywhere

Remember the 1980s? MTV launched. The Berlin Wall fell. And people were in hot pursuit of the next great invention. The disposable camera was invented, along with disposable contact lenses. Engineers built a prototype for the first HDTV. The forensic science field was forever changed by the breakthrough of DNA fingerprinting.

A Salute to Edisons Everywhere

New inventions were debuting on the market at dizzying speeds, and many of them vastly improved health, communication and technology.

How appropriate then, that in 1983, on the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s birthday, U.S. President Ronald Regan proclaimed February 11 National Inventors’ Day “in recognition of the enormous contribution inventors make to the nation and to the world.”

Other countries have marked occasions to honor inventors, too. Argentina celebrates Inventors’ Day on September 29, the birthday of ballpoint pen inventor Laszlo Jozef Biro. Hungary celebrates on June 13, in honor of Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who patented synthesized vitamin C.

Fast-forward some 15 years. In 1998, The United Inventors Association of the USA (UIA-USA), the Academy of Applied Science and Inventors' Digest magazine came together and established May as National Inventors Month. The month brings 31 days devoted to honoring and celebrating the scientists, engineers, physicists and big thinkers who continue to push the boundaries of what is possible. Together, they are the lifeblood for technological progress and economic well-being.

This month, designed to rekindle the spirit of imagination and fuel the inventor in all of us, we encourage you to learn about and honor past, present and future inventors.

Happy National Inventors Month, friends. Onward and upward toward your next great venture!

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National Inventors Month – We’re all in this Together

Invention doesn’t just happen. At Intellectual Ventures (IV) we understand that it takes hard work, investment, an appetite for risk and a willingness to fail. That’s why we’re proud to support and collaborate with programs and organizations who are taking on big ideas around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) while working to inspire and support future inventors. This National Inventors Month—and every month—we are grateful to the organizations we’re proud to sponsor for ensuring the next generation of innovative thinkers and doers. With their help, we continue forging a world that is constantly moving forward from good to better. 

National Inventors Month – We’re all in this Together

Washington FIRST Robotics inspires young people to discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology while building valuable life skills through competitive robotics. IV employees mentor high school teams in and around the Seattle area, helping local students learn about potential careers in the business of invention.

Pacific Science Center fuels tomorrow’s innovations by igniting curiosity and creative thinking, and IV is excited to be a part of that mission. Our support goes toward the Discovery Corps, where high school students gain experience and expertise in science careers. IV President and COO, Adriane Brown, also serves as a member of the board.

Expanding Your Horizons fosters girls’ interest in pursuing STEM careers through hands-on opportunities. Our employee volunteers assist as STEM role models to middle and high school girls, motivating them to be innovative and creative thinkers.

Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) is the unifying voice of the technology community in Washington State. With a membership base of more than 600 companies and 40 events, training, and other programming to connect people, WTIA is the ultimate connector of companies driving the innovation economy in Washington State.

Technology Alliance is a not-for-profit organization of leaders from Washington’s technology-based businesses and research institutions united by the vision of a vibrant innovation economy. IV’s sponsorship supports annual research study on key issues affecting the long-term health of Washington’s technology economy.

Stay up-to-date on our community involvement by subscribing to our newsletter, and check out more quotes from IV volunteers and mentors on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

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Looking to the Future: IDF in Transition

Building on a proud history of creating some of the world's most innovative new companies, Intellectual Ventures (IV) is pleased to announce a significant change for our Invention Development Fund (IDF), which will now be independently operated by new fund managers.

Looking to the Future: IDF in Transition

Founded in 2005 and launched in 2007, IDF set out to source valuable new inventions from around the world. In the years since, it made incredible strides toward that goal by building a global network of inventors and challenging them to solve far-ranging problems.

A natural next step in the growth of the business, the decision to spin out IDF from IV recognizes a unique opportunity for IDF to expand its business model in new and exciting directions. As part of IDF’s continued effort to commercialize the inventions sourced from some of the world’s top inventors, the change provides additional strategic possibilities for the organization.

Just as IV has done with spinout companies in the past such as Terrapower, Kymeta and Echodyne, control of IDF has been handed to new management. Importantly, despite being independent from IV, the IDF business and IV will continue to partner on joint transactions when it makes business sense and will each continue on their separate paths to support and promote the invention marketplace.

As IDF transitions away from IV’s management, IDF’s current leader, Chris Alliegro, will continue to be central to the future of the business. Stay tuned for more on IDF’s next steps.

Throughout IV’s history, we have been committed to building a thriving market for invention and nurturing an ecosystem in which intellectual property (IP)-centric businesses can thrive. We’re excited to watch as this spinout contributes to this ecosystem, and in the meantime, IV will continue to support the market for invention through our focus on creating, acquiring and licensing IP.

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Hannover Messe Recap: Innovating Beyond Borders

Intellectual Ventures was honored to represent the United States at the Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial-technology trade show. We’d been invited to exhibit there by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and we think we did the U.S. proud. We demonstrated technologies from three of our funds and hosted a reception that drew more than 500 people from many different countries and industries ranging from robotics to manufacturing and defense. 

Several members of the Intellectual Ventures team at Hannover.

Most importantly, the event served as a proof point for a theme that IV has embraced since its founding: that all the world’s economies depend on one another when it comes to innovation. President Obama emphasized that theme in the speech he made at the start of the show, remarking that the “spirit of innovation” turns ideas into jobs everywhere.

IV’s innovating spirit looks beyond our own shores to where the need for innovation is greatest. That’s clear from the inventions we showcased at the Hannover Messe: a portable refrigeration unit for vaccine transport in developing countries, an insect-zapping “fence” for disease prevention, and several others. Lots of companies and inventors are targeting the U.S. market; we take a global perspective, and so do our partners and customers.

IV has always had a global focus. We built a whole fund around the idea of linking customers worldwide with inventors in dozens of different countries. Our Invention Science Fund (ISF) works with more than 100 of the world’s top inventors, including 11 of America’s top 50 inventors. Global Good addresses important issues in developing countries such as women’s, maternal, and child health; dairy-sector development; and disease screening and diagnosis. Our lab pursues breakthroughs that have the potential to become spin-out companies with far-reaching impact. And ISF recently signed a deal in Israel to launch an innovation incubator that will commercialize inventions in the medical-technologies and e-health markets.

Guests mingle at IV's Hannover Messe reception.

Not surprisingly, our global footprint drew a lot of interest at the Hannover Messe. At the reception we hosted, we got to talk further about the unique role we play in supporting the vast infrastructure that catalyzes invention around the world. People are beginning to realize they need someone like us to help their inventors reach the places where they’re needed most and to find the inventions that will help them solve complex problems.

Without a worldwide portal to innovation supply and demand, whole countries and their inventors risk being left out of the global economy. That’s why people from all over the world flock to events like the Hannover Messe. And that’s why they’re coming to depend on IV. We’re better positioned than anyone else in the world to connect the global supply of innovation with the global demand for it. With our unique approach to innovation, we’re able to leverage the value of the network effect—that essential connection to the universe of invention.

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Staff Spotlight: Gary McKnight, Ph.D., Scientific Program Manager

With deep and broad knowledge in the bio sciences and a focus on biotechnology, Gary McKnight, Ph.D., is always up-to-date on the latest scientific advances as he pushes to identify the next breakthrough. For National Inventors Month, we sat down with Gary to hear more about his background and perspective on invention.  

Staff Spotlight: Gary McKnight, Ph.D., Scientific Program Manager

What was your path to Intellectual Ventures (IV)?

My academic background is in radiation biology, genetics and biochemistry, and I spent a good deal of time studying human genes and cellular metabolism. I worked for a biotech company for 25 years and during that time, I was involved in both yeast and human genetics. Towards the end of my time there, I was focused on bioinformatics, as the head of information services which included the library. With my background and understanding as it relates the bio sciences, I ended up here at IV, working under Rod Hyde with the Invention Science Fund (ISF).

What's the most interesting aspect of your job at IV?

The fun part about working at IV is that there are always new ideas that demand investigation. The other exciting piece is that we have people with such diverse backgrounds and extreme knowledge here on the team in ISF, and broadly at IV. You could think of any topic in the sciences and someone at IV is going to be able to immediately tell you about it. If you’re unsure of a specific answer, or just want a deeper understanding of a topic, you can literally just ask someone down the hall or dig into the literature. It’s truly remarkable and makes every day interesting.

Part of my job entails looking at the literature, scientific journals, and endeavoring to understand what’s new in emerging science. Every day is an opportunity to learn which makes coming to work about as exciting scientifically as you can get.

What does invention mean to you?

In part it’s about building on prior research, trying to look at unsolved problems and areas of unmet need. This involves trying to incorporate the newest information and technologies to move a certain field forward. During my time here, I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in a number of different invention sessions. It’s thrilling to contribute to the interplay of different minds from academic, commercial or foundation affiliations, who are all working together to make substantial progress and ultimately invent. Collaboration is essential to invention, but it is also vital during the evaluation process.

What drives you to invent?

I’ve continuously paid attention to emerging science, and coupled with that, I’m naturally inquisitive and have a broad set of interests. I’ve always kept up to date with journals, often reading the pre-prints prior to final publication. I like to say, better to know sooner than later. I completed my post doc at the University of Washington in genetics and medical genetics, which has provided me with exceptional training. Having lived in the Seattle area for 35 years, I know and maintain relationships with many people here in diverse areas of study and they continue to inspire me. That inspiration drives me and keeps me pushing great ideas forward. 

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Which Inventor Mastermind Are You?

Inventors are the masterminds behind all things popular: cell phones, video games, electronic dance music and more. Before these were must-haves, an inventor hovered over a lab bench somewhere, scribbling out plans for new inventions that would amaze and delight millions.

Perhaps the problem is that inventors themselves are too often overshadowed by the brilliance of their inventions. In celebration of National Inventors Month, we're shinging the spotlight on inventors everywhere.

Don’t let your inner-brilliance go unnoticed. Take the quiz to find out which inventor mastermind you resemble most.


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Behind the Breakthrough for National Inventors Month: Rafal Krepec, Lanomat, Inc. Founder

May is National Inventors Month, and at Intellectual Ventures, we owe a great debt of gratitude to the men and women who work tirelessly to develop new breakthroughs. All month long, we’ll be featuring their stories on our Insights blog, as well as our TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn profiles. Today on Behind the Breakthrough, we’re featuring inventor and entrepreneur Rafal Krepec of Lanomat, Inc. Rafal invented, patented and is now developing the DuoPad, an innovative dual-mode multi-touch trackpad that offers, not only traditional mouse attributes, but also virtualizes your hand therefore bringing full “touchscreen” functionality so users can utilize touch apps on any monitor. A true “breakthrough” in the world of graphical interface design and computing.

Behind the Breakthrough for National Inventors Month: Rafal Krepec, Lanomat, Inc. Founder

Rafal’s invention has had an interesting journey, which includes working with Intellectual Ventures as both an inventor and a partner and launching a successful crowdfunding campaign for DuoPad. Now, his invention is set to play a key role in merging the way we use computers with how we interact with touch driven devices like smartphones and tablets.

Rafal was kind enough to sit down with us to discuss his journey. Here are his insights:

Can you talk a bit about your invention and how you came up with the idea?

I’ve always been interested in how computers work, and throughout my career, I became very familiar with graphical user interface systems like the mouse and the benefits it brings to a computing system. But through my experiences, I realized that the traditional mouse had its limitations.

Unlike a touch screen or a stylus pen, a mouse doesn’t provide direct input to a computer – you can’t touch and feel or immerse in an interactive experience. Instead, the user interacts relatively with the screen by dragging around a pointer and clicking. There are many benefits of being able to have the kind of absolute input that a stylus provides or by direct touch, but direct input, like touching a screen, simply isn’t ergonomic for a vertical monitor; you get arm fatigue called “gorilla arm.” So around 2004, I invented a new pointing device that allows users to touch a horizontal surface (using a pen, or your fingers) and interact with your computer as if touching your vertical monitor. You virtually see your hand on the monitor and get to navigate and interact with your computing device by simply touching this horizontal surface; no longer limited to dragging around a pointer and clicking like you do a mouse or trackpad. This new technology effectively solves the computing gap – creating the comfortable and pleasant touch interactive computing experience for users without having to actually touch the vertical screen.

Any strong invention has to have relevance to what’s happening today. Touch is pervasive, but its true capabilities have not yet been fully realized in my opinion. It’s being used in our desktop environment but because many people use their mobile devices to run touch apps, this new input device, DuoPad, also allows people to merge their smartphone and tablet experiences with their vertically oriented computer screens, enabling the use of touch apps on monitors that are not even touch enabled. No gorilla arm, no fingerprint covered monitors. It’s great!

How did you come to work with IV?

After I received a patent for my invention from the USPTO, I contacted Intellectual Ventures because I knew they are a leader in protecting inventions as well as with promoting innovation. I wanted to do business with them to get access to capital that would let me further develop my technology. Today, that’s resulted in a product being built by my company.

Intellectual Ventures has an entrepreneurial spirit, and for someone like me, it was always really encouraging and gratifying to share that perspective throughout the process of invention.

What advice do you have for inventors just starting out on how to approach the idea of inventing?

Expect and prepare yourself to be patient! It’s a key ingredient in the process.

What I love about IV is that the company specializes in the field of invention. Therefore, they have the critically important appreciation for what a lengthy process invention is. As an inventor, I was grateful for IV’s understanding for how time consuming it is to produce real inventions, to have those inventions be truly unique, and then to produce the intellectual property. For me, that was a huge benefit to working with the IV team.

What drives you as an inventor and entrepreneur?

It’s a passion of mine to see something – not only my creation – but to see something well done and well-made that people like to use become a reality. I like it when people have great products that solve problems for everyday life. This concept drove my development of the DuoPad, and will continue to drive my approach to the company and product development.

Want the most up-to-date news on the DuoPad’s launch? Sign up here for the latest. For more interviews from our Behind the Breakthrough series, subscribe to our newsletter here

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News You Can Use: April Edition

It’s been a great month for news profiling inventors, inventions, mentorship and more. Check out some of the links we’re loving from April.

News You Can Use: April Edition

IV in the News

IV’s Manan Shukla (above) talks with Rural Reporters about how the AI Shield can help improve the lives of cattle and dairy farmers across the developing world.

CNBC profiles IV spinout Kymeta and their groundbreaking metamaterials satellite technology. 

Inspiring Inventions

Stanford engineers invent ‘gecko toes,’ using inspiration from lizards to design an adhesive that could let people engage in superhero-like feats like climbing walls of glass.

Think Progress profiles wearable technology developed by students to help people with disabilities.

Insight from Mentors

Physicist Olivia Castellini, a senior exhibit designer at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, talks about the importance of mentorship in a new video.

The Smithsonian Institution Archives profiles Roxie Laybourne and some of her incredible advice gathered over a 44-year tenure with the institution as a forensic ornithologist.

Grand Finale

The National Inventors Hall of Fame inducted their 2016 class. Check out the amazing men and women and their breakthroughs.

Want more News You Can Use? Follow us on Twitter and get the good stuff in real-time. 

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:

Related Posts

Edward Jung

Edward Jung

Edward Jung is a founder and CTO of Intellectual Ventures.





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