With over 600 patents to his name, Jerome Lemelson – known to his friends and family as “Jerry” – was one of the most prolific and productive inventors in American history. Jerry and his remarkably creative intellect touch almost every facet of our everyday lives. Jerry received an average of one patent a month for more than 50 years – all on his own, without support from established research institutions or corporate research and development departments.
Jerry and his wife Dorothy – a successful interior designer and strong advocate for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education – and their family believed that invention and innovation were essential to American economic success and vitality. The Lemelsons realized that in order for the US to remain a world leader in economic growth and technology there was a great need to place a strong emphasis on invention and innovation. Their approach – to inspire and educate the next generation of inventors and to help provide them with the resources to turn their ideas into invention-based businesses and commercial technologies.
With this in mind, Jerry’s inventive mind started churning on how best to support the next generation of inventors in their endeavors. With the encouragement of their sons, Eric and Robert, Jerry and Dorothy envisioned a national program that would recognize inventors and support the translation of their inventions into products. It was their hope that the children of future generations in the US would aspire to be inventors, and have the potential to turn their aspirations into reality. They established The Lemelson Foundation in the early 1990’s to achieve this goal.
After Jerry’s death in 1997, Dorothy Lemelson and her children and family has continued to guide the Foundation with her and Jerry’s vision. As the end of the 20th century approached, she and the Foundation’s Board realized that the Foundation’s philosophy and methods of inspiring, educating and incubating the next generation of inventors and invention-based businesses in the US could be extended to help the billions of people in developing countries living in poverty, resulting in the creation of the Foundation’s Developing Country program.