Last week, The Lemelson Foundation celebrated our 20th anniversary with a look at the work supported by our grantees and partners, and an optimistic look forward to the future of Impact Inventing.
The celebration held at the Ronald Regan International Trade Center in Washington, DC consisted of a day of informative panels, invention spotlights, inspiring videos, and informal networking of inventors young and old. A dynamic collection of grantees and sub-grantees discussed triumphant successes and resilience-building failures along each step of their journey as inventors. Speakers ranged from students at Cesar Chavez High School in Arizona to the inventor of the digital camera to heads of Lemelson-supported invention incubators in Africa, India, and Latin America.
The day started with an in-depth look at the Foundation’s roots and the personality and vision of founder Jerome Lemelson. The Foundation’s Co-Founder Dorothy Lemelson explained, “From the moment I met Jerry, he was focused on invention. It was his passion, and it lasted his whole life.” The Lemelsons’ belief in invention as the engine of the US economy motivated the Foundation’s early investments, which later broadened to encourage invention to meet basic needs and create positive change in developing countries.
The day also focused on our embrace of the Impact Inventing, urging inventors to tackle pressing problems, make environmentally responsible decisions, and achieve financial sustainability to create long-term impact through products, jobs and increased revenue. The Foundation’s Executive Director Carol Dahl explained the powerful potential of this concept: “Inventors make the future. They make change, and when focused on real and tough challenges, they can transform the world. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
To close the day, Jerome and Dorothy’s son and the Foundation’s Board Vice President Rob Lemelson summarized the day’s learnings as a call to action for inventors: “Believe in yourself. Be resilient. Find a great mentor. Be able to fail gracefully and get back up again. Immerse yourself in a problem. Break down siloes and barriers. Don’t do nonsense. Go long-term. Change the world!”
We look forward to continuing the conversations that happened at our anniversary celebration, and will be posting photos and more videos from the day’s events in the coming months.