Invention is critical to the future we all want

We need the people and systems to make that happen

With our partners, we work to cultivate the next generation of impact inventors, and strengthen the supporting systems that allow invention-based businesses to thrive.

The world’s challenges will not be solved by software alone.

The Foundation focuses on nurturing invention-based businesses that are developing unique, physical products to address global and community challenges and are destined for high growth.

Because these businesses often require longer time to market due to prototyping, manufacturing and building distribution channels, they are often overlooked by funders interested in fast results.

Where We Work

The Foundation works in the U.S. to increase access to invention education and entrepreneurship programs for impact inventors.
In India and East Africa, we fund programs that support inventors creating scalable and sustainable technologies that improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable.
We work globally on climate action initiatives to accelerate and scale up solutions to climate change.

Invention Spotlight

SMILE-100 System

A thermography device that helps detect early signs of breast cancer.

Ergonomic Dual Surface Wheelchair Push Rim

A wheelchair that relieves stress on the user’s upper body.


A small packet that extends a fruit’s shelf life by threefold.

Hydrogen Conversion Kit

A kit that converts any gasoline-burning engine into one that burns zero-carbon hydrogen instead.

Our Initiatives

We are strengthening invention ecosystems in both the U.S. and India and East Africa to support pathways for inventors and inventions to take ideas to impact.

Our Grants

Since our founding, we have invested over $300 million in organizations supporting impact invention. Learn more about the projects we fund.

Primary and Secondary Education
Higher Education
Regional Ecosystems

Beyond Benign

An organization that disseminates green chemistry and sustainable science educational resources for educators, students and the community. Received support to develop and disseminate K-12 curricular resources and training that empowers educators and students to practice environmental sustainability through green chemistry.


The Lemelson-MIT program raises the profile of inventors and their impact, and develops engaging education programs to provide youth the skills and knowledge to invent. Received support for the Lemelson-MIT Prize, Student Prize Program, InvenTeam Program and JV InvenTeam Initiative, MITES Fellowships, Lemelson Minority Engineering Fellowships, Lemelson Fund for the Student Machine Shop and Lemelson Technology Research Ignition Fund.

PSU Foundation

Portland State University’s foundation that cultivates and manages monetary and volunteer support for the university. Received support for Oregon MESA program activities, including organizational strategic planning for new invention education curricula, teacher trainings, expansion into new regions of Oregon and creating new international partnerships.

Smithsonian Institution

The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation is part of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Received support to create a national resource dedicated to documenting, interpreting, and disseminating information about invention and innovation and its role in U.S. history and encouraging youth creativity.

Global Minimum

A non-profit that encourages young innovators and leaders in Africa, ages 15-20, to engage with critical thinking skills and hands-on learning programs to tackle challenges affecting their communities. Received support to continue scaling GMin’s educational programs in Kenya.

Rice University

A comprehensive research university in Houston, Texas, that fosters diversity and an intellectual environment to advance tomorrow’s thinking. Received support to create a high-quality invention education program in biomedical engineering in Malawi that spurs the development of products and invention-based businesses to address the health needs of the poor.


An organization established through Foundation support that provides funding and resources to help U.S. student inventors move their technology ideas from lab to market. Received support to build a pipeline of students inventors through E-Team grant and training programs, and new courses through faculty grants to cultivate the conditions that nurture inventors.

Ankur Capital

A venture capital fund that provides flexible capital to innovative business models that can address core challenges in agriculture, healthcare, skill development and education. Received support for Program-Related Investment (PRI) to enable investment in innovative enterprises, including those in the seed stage, that produce tangible results to empower the poor in India.


A non-profit membership organization that encourages the global engineering community to develop solutions to benefit lives and livelihoods. Received conference support for the 2018 ASME iShow, a global competition for hardware-led social innovation hosted in the U.S., India and Kenya.

Aspen Institute

An organization that fosters value-based leadership that encourages reflection on ideals and ideas that define a good society and provides a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. Received support for a multi-year research project with USAID, Omidyar and Argidius Foundation to uncover best practices around global business acceleration.


A private company in India that engages in the research, development and assembly of connected medical devices that relay data to a central server. Received support for Program-Related Investment (PRI) to provide support for PicoLabs, alternative diagnostic procedures for underserved, poor populations in India.

Gearbox Limited

A professional engineering and prototyping space in Nairobi, Kenya, for hardware inventors that offers the training, facilities and network for them to design and develop products to improve lives. Received support to develop 20,000 square-foot shared office and manufacturing space and training for inventor entrepreneurs.

Kenya Impact Innovations Foundation

A non-profit affiliated with Kenya Impact Incubator Ltd. that seeks to prove the viability of a social business incubation model in Kenya. Received support to continue business incubation activities focused on building a pipeline of scalable invention-based enterprises that address unmet health needs for low-resource populations in Kenya and throughout East Africa.


A social impact fund platform that is a new type of investment vehicle separate but aligned with Villgro Innovations Foundation, designed to invest in and provide high-touch incubation support to early-stage enterprises with a focus on social impact in India. Received support for Program-Related Investment (PRI) in Menterra Social Impact Fund 1, an Indian Alternative Investment Fund-Social Venture Fund.

Promethean Power Systems

An organization that designs and manufactures refrigeration systems for cold storage and milk chilling applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries. Received support for Program-Related Investment (PRI) to provide personnel support to commission new milk chillers in rural India, maintain milk chillers in the field and train dairy farmers with limited incomes.

SELCO Foundation

An open-source non-profit that engages in field-based R&D and ecosystem building for the deployment of clean energy solutions that alleviate poverty in tribal, rural and urban poor areas. Received support to help identify, evaluate and commercialize technologies that meet the needs of poor people in India.

Unitus Seed Fund

An India-based venture fund that invests in startups innovating for the masses in the areas of education, healthcare, financial technology and consumer business. Received support for Program-Related Investment (PRI) to help startups prepare for growth by providing seed funding, strategic and operating support, access to industry connections and growth capital.


A venture capital fund partnered with the Tenet Group of IIT Madras, a first-of-its-kind incubation, seed and early stage fund in India. Received support for Program-Related Investment (PRI) in the Ventureast Tenet Fund II, focused on developing technology companies to address the needs of people in rural India.

VilCap Investments

An investment fund that aims to invest in the highest-potential entrepreneurs and inventors in target sectors of agriculture, education, energy, financial services and health. Received support for Program-Related Investment (PRI) to make portfolio company investments in early-stage, invention-based enterprises that strive to make a positive social or environmental impact.


An organization that enriches rural lives in India by enabling innovations to reach the market. Received support for the incubation and launch of high-impact, highly scalable, invention-based enterprises in India and to provide support for replication of the Villgro Innovation Foundation model in select developing countries.

Oregon Community Foundation

A foundation to improve lives of all Oregonians through the power of philanthropy. Received support for the 2018 Oregon Capital Scan research project to address the topic of capital availability for emerging and growth-stage companies within the state, with a goal of highlighting the role of invention-based enterprises (IBEs) in the regional economy and promote a robust Oregon invention ecosystem.

OSU Foundation

Oregon State University’s foundation that raises and manages funds for university projects, including the Mobile Invention Camps offered in rural Oregon. Received support for The Office of Precollege Programs at Oregon State University’s Mobile Invention Camps to reach students in under-resourced communities and to highlight the role of invention-based enterprises (IBEs) in the regional economy.

PSU Foundation

Portland State University’s foundation that cultivates and manages monetary and volunteer support for the university. Received support for Portland State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship’s InventOR program to inspire student inventors and to refine the curricula of the pre-college invention education programs for underserved students through Invention Boot Camp.

TiE Oregon

A non-profit membership organization affiliated with the global TiE network that seeks to further the success of innovation-driven enterprise in Oregon. Received support to provide the TiE Young Entrepreneurs program to high school students from under-resourced backgrounds in Oregon and train educators in Oregon and at TiE chapters globally.