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Inspiration Leads to Innovation

Thom Ruhe, Director of Entrepreneurship, The Kauffman Foundation

Last week I once again had the honor to attend the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame Induction ceremony and celebration gala that took place at the beautiful campus of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

It is hard to convey the incredible impact many of these inductees had in shaping our lives. From the gentleman that ostensibly invented GPS technology, which incidentally allowed for the validation of Einstein’s theory of relativity to the woman who invented ‘mini-rockets’ that keep geosynchronous satellites in orbit, you cannot be in the presence of such innovators, risk takers, dreamers, and not realize how lucky we all are for their existence and contributions.

The Future of Innovation and Entrepreneurship?

It also makes me wonder, where are the ideas that will impact humanity incubating today? Where are the “Bell Labs” of this century? Who will drive the innovation that will help society take great strides in making the world a better, safer, cleaner, healthier – and dare I dream it, better place for the next the generation?

I am fortunate in that I see the potential of this innovation – it is called entrepreneurship.

And in the midst of those remarkable accomplishments, and many more, I even had the good fortune to meet the aspiring next generation of dreamers. From a brilliant friend of mine developing a mobile customer incentive platform that will change everything we know about retailing to another start-up named TrafficTalk; a traffic information service company providing an application that enables drivers (safely) using mobile phones to learn and share real time data on traffic.

One thing is clear in hearing the stories of these incredible inductees, they persevered in difficult times. They rose above fear and instead dared to dream of what could be. The woman that invented the mini-rockets for example drew inspiration from seized Nazi documents post WWII. And when Jacques Cousteau realized that the majority of our planet’s surface remains uncharted, he set out to give humans the ability to discover it.

If you have had enough of the political noise and are feeling down about our prospects, turn off the television and get to an entrepreneurial event, (breakfast, lunch, lecture, or mixer.) I promise you that it will be time well spent, because supporting innovation and entrepreneurship is the most important thing we can do towards building a future worth living. 

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