What comes to mind when someone says the word, “inventor?” Do you picture white coats and large laboratories? Maybe someone standing at a table pouring different-colored liquids into flasks? And yes, some inventors might actually match these characteristics. But, on the whole, the truth is that inventors come in all different shapes and sizes. In fact, some game-changing inventors are just beginning their innovative careers. For this edition of News You Can Use, we’ve profiled a few stories about exciting young inventors who are truly changing the world.  

20-Year-Old Invents Ocean-Cleaning Device

Boyan Slat is helping to clean up the ocean like never before. Only 20, he devised a system of floating plastic barriers that holds a net-like device and has the potential to remove more than 70 million kilograms of plastic waste in just 10 years. And it’s not only removing waste, it’s also breaking records – the 6,500-foot-wide apparatus has been labeled the longest floating structure to ever be put in the ocean. Oh, and Slat’s project is all part of the nonprofit he runs, Ocean Cleanup. And all of this at the age of 20.

17-Year-Old Invents Wound-Healing Gel

Joe Landolina invented VetiGel, an algae-based polymer that stops bleeding from an open wound in seconds, when he was only 17 and still in high school. He used his grandfather’s lab to experiment and perfect the product. Today, at 22, he’s the cofounder and CEO of Suneris, a biotechnology company that produces the gel. The potential for this product is vast and Landolina hopes to start human trials within the year. And yes, we swear he’s only 22.

Graduate Student Invents Incubator for Developing World

Jane Chen was a 20-something Stanford graduate student when she helped to invent an incubator that treats babies born prematurely. This technology already existed of course, but the genius of Chen’s creation is its affordability – less than 1 percent of the cost compared to most incubators. This device has been game changing from the beginning, with 150,000 preterm infants saved thus far in developing countries across the world.

Like these inventors, IV founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold got his start at a young age – he graduated from college with multiple degrees when he was only 20. But as Nathan pointed out in his recent commencement speech at UCLA, the road to success is rarely direct. Check out the full speech, where he encourages graduates to embrace and learn from failure to achieve their goals.

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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