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Building on the foundations of innovation

March 10, 2017

Tampa, Fla. (Mar. 10, 2017) - The new issue of Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors ® (18:4) (full text) highlights papers from the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI): "Building on the Foundations of Innovation." The NAI Annual Conference, held last year on April 14 and 15, 2016, in Washington, DC, provides an annual forum for celebrating academic invention and inventors, recognizing and encouraging invention, and enhancing the visibility of university and non-profit research. This issue contains a special conference section and a general section.

"This issue of T&I pays tribute to where we have been and where we are going in the world of innovation and in the National Academy of Inventors," said Dr. Paul Sanberg, president of the NAI and co-editor-in-chief of T&I. "It's an exciting moment for academic invention."


Although the National Academy of Inventors is a young organization, it has a compelling history, writes Arthur Molella of the Smithsonian Institution. Drawing on an extensive interview with NAI founder Paul Sanberg and a careful contextualization of the NAI's place in innovation history, Molella explores the genesis of the organization.

For Arthur Daemmrich, director of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution, understanding how an impending fourth industrial revolution--driven by artificial intelligence and distributed small-scale manufacturing--will impact inventors and innovation systems requires analysis of the past three industrial revolutions.

Yolanda Comedy (AAAS) and co-authors discuss efforts to create innovation "ecosystems," focusing on the need for "invention ambassadors" who have a passion for solving problems and teaching their students to change the world.

Women pursuing a career in science are often subjected to gender biases, say NIH emerita scientist Florence P. Haseltine and co-author Mark Chodos. Looking at contributions in science and innovation, this paper explores reasons behind why women entering the sciences are often asked "why" they want to be scientists while men entering the sciences are often instead asked "what" field they want to enter.

Katrina Cornish of The Ohio State University Departments of Horticulture and Crop Science and of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering discusses the importance of natural rubber, a strategic raw material essential to the manufacture of 50,000 different kinds of rubber and latex products, noting that steadily increasing demand requires viable alternative crops.

The NAI Fellow Profile features Dr. Emery N. Brown, noted anesthesiologist, neuroscientist, and statistician, who was a keynote speaker at the Fifth Annual Conference of the Academy of Inventors.


While some might view university technology transfer as a source of revenue generation, in most cases this is not and should not be the primary motivation for technology transfer, write authors James K. Woodell, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and Tobin L. Smith, American Association of Universities. If done right, they say, technology transfer aims at the university's primary goals: research, education, and service, all carried out in the public interest.

Seed funding for start-up companies provides advantages well beyond the monies received, particularly for university-based start-ups. According to Donna L. Herber, University of South Florida Research & Innovation, and her co-authors, benefits include expanded funding opportunities, hiring and retention of top entrepreneurial faculty, goal setting, entrepreneur development, economic development, and university engagement.

Victor Poirier, University of South Florida Research & Innovation, and his co-authors offer thoughts on improving innovation through education, addressing the key question: "What are the characteristics of innovation and how can we cultivate them?" Their aim is to formulate a process to educate individuals to better use their innovative traits by fully utilizing those traits they have and helping awaken traits that are "dormant."

For a special subset of U.S. students deemed young innovators-in-the-making, who score high on tests of spatial thinking skills, Paul Swamidass of the Harbert College of Business at Auburn University and co-author Christine Schnittka of Auburn University's College of Education, using research evidence, argue that a number of questions need to be answered about these talented students' K-12 teachers, including how teachers can keep young minds engaged and creative while still in school, and how teachers can best understand and help them reach their full potential as future innovators.
The National Academy of Inventors is a 501(c)(3) non-profit member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 3,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 200 institutions, and growing rapidly. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. The NAI offices are located in the USF Research Park in Tampa. The NAI publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation.

University of South Florida (USF Innovation)

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