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Behind the NIHF Scenes

50 Years of Innovation: Encouraging Entrepreneurship

“Being an entrepreneur is about being in love with and passionate about your work. You cannot grow an enterprise unless you are willing to evolve with your business.”
— National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Lisa Lindahl, co-inventor of the sports bra


Founded in 1973, the National Inventors Hall of Fame is on a mission to recognize inventors, promote creativity, and advance the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Our Hall of Fame Inductees — Our Nation’s Greatest Innovators — are at the heart of our mission. Their involvement in every aspect of our organization, from inspiring and influencing curricula for PreK-12 invention education programs to serving as Judges at the Collegiate Inventors Competition® (CIC), makes it possible for our mission to reach the next generation of creators, innovators and entrepreneurs.

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we’ve been reflecting on the past and planning for the future of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Read on to learn how, with the support of our partners and donors, we continue to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit across the country.

Inspiring the Youngest Entrepreneurs

From the start, the National Inventors Hall of Fame has inspired the entrepreneur in everyone by sharing the lessons and stories of our Inductees. In 1990, we began reaching young innovators in new and meaningful ways with our flagship education program, Camp Invention®. In addition to this K-6 summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) camp that is now nationally acclaimed, we have since launched the Club Invention® afterschool program and the versatile PreK-8 Invention Project® program for both in-school and out-of-school learning.

Each hands-on experience helps children build the same mindset our Inductees have used to change the world. The I Can Invent® Mindset combines confidence, persistence, collaboration and innovation with STEM, design thinking, creative problem solving, intellectual property and entrepreneurship. Equipped with these skills and traits, children discover their potential to become creators, develop solutions and launch businesses.

Camp Invention campers not only dream of becoming entrepreneurs in the future — many are making those dreams come true right now. Camp Invention alum Treandos Thornton found the inspiration and confidence to launch T&N Bow Ties and Apparel. He said, “Camp Invention helped me to speak in front of people.”

Brothers Ayaan and Mika’il Naqvi, also Camp Invention alumni, started their own business to sell their invention, Ornament Anchor. “Camp Invention sparked my interest in business,” Mika’il said. “We learned about branding, trademarks and copyrights — things that really opened us up to this wonderful world of entrepreneurship.”

With National Inventors Hall of Fame education programs in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, children across the country are preparing to become tomorrow’s leaders.

“Every day, both of my children came home with the most wonderful stories about their days, and all the creative ways they were learning about entrepreneurship, problem solving and so much more. To be able to have fun with these critical concepts at such a young age will help arm them with skills they need to be successful. More importantly, I am convinced that teaching our next generation of leaders these concepts will make our world better.”
— Deena M., Camp Invention parent, Bellingham, FL


Challenging Emerging Leaders

As our program participants grow into adults, many attend college and pursue an innovative path. Nicole Black is an outstanding example of an innovator and entrepreneur who has grown with National Inventors Hall of Fame programs.

Black attended Camp Invention as an elementary student, volunteered at camp as a Leadership Intern and later entered CIC, a unique experience designed to recognize and reward the nation’s most creative college and university students. CIC gives student inventors the chance to gain feedback from National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees and intellectual property experts, engage in one-of-a-kind networking opportunities, and compete for cash prizes and patent acceleration.

In 2018, Black and her co-inventor Michael Kreder became CIC Graduate Winners with their invention of PionEar, which helps patients suffering from perforated eardrums. Black has since established two companies, PionEar Technologies and Beacon Bio, which was acquired by Desktop Metal Inc. Today, Black leads a team at Desktop Health to develop innovative 3D printed medical devices including PhonoGraft.

“The aspect of invention that’s stuck with me ever since [attending Camp Invention] is to be proud of the things you create and share them with the world,” Black said. “It’s important to tell kids that their voice matters and to encourage them to keep pushing their ideas — because they are important.”


Share Your Story

Do you or your child have a personal story about the power of entrepreneurship? Visit our website to share your story and learn how you could win a trip to Washington, D.C., to help us celebrate our 50th anniversary at the 2023 National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony!

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