Our Theory of Action

The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives. We believe invention can solve many of the biggest social and economic challenges of our time.

We work to create a pipeline of inventors and invention-based businesses in the U.S. and developing countries that can have positive social and economic impact.

We do this by investing in organizations that:

  • Inspire young or emerging inventors to solve problems through invention (Inspiration)

  • Provide inventors with the knowledge and tools they need to do their best work (Education)

  • Help launch invention-based businesses and support them through the early incubation phase (Incubation) 


We work to raise the public profile and image of inventors and invention. We do this through prizes; supporting public immersion and hands-on experiential engagement; creating evidence, stories and supporting studies ; supporting related convenings to establish communities of practice;enabling thought leadership on behalf of invention; strategically engaging media; and building enduring organizations that promote invention.


We work to build a pipeline of inventors by equipping them with the essential skills to invent and develop self-sustaining, invention-based enterprises. We do this through supporting courses and programs for invention education; expanding the number of underserved students experiencing invention education; providing professional development for invention education to educators; promoting a community of practice in invention education; supporting convenings to promote and address issues related to invention education; demonstrating thought leadership; and building enduring organizations that support invention education.


We work to build investment-ready, self-sustaining, invention-based enterprises. We do this through providing emerging invention-based businesses and associated inventor/entrepreneurs access to quality resources and training; providing access to mentoring; access to engineering spaces; routes to customer feedback and better market information; access to senior talent; and sources of seed funding; promoting a community of practice; and continuing to serve as thought leaders in the field of incubation of invention-based enterprise; as well as building enduring organizations that support emerging invention-based business and associated inventor/entrepreneurs.