Breaking It Down: Invention Sessions

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Breaking It Down: Invention Sessions

July 14, 2015

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.

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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