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In 1867, a man named Anson Mills found the standard ammunition cartridge belt too bulky and difficult to adjust. So he decided to do something about it. He fashioned a new belt with a lighter, pliable band he made of leather or a material with similar thickness and improved upon the existing belt so much he got a patent for “improvements in cartridge belts.” With this invention, Mills became Wyoming’s first patented inventor. Folks in Wyoming continue to have big ideas, and that is why I host a conference for inventors each year.

I held my first Wyoming Inventors Conference in 2004 as a way to help Wyoming's small business owners and inventors succeed in today's marketplace. The conference helps guide entrepreneurs by providing information about the patent process, business planning, funding options and marketing. This year, the Inventors Conference will be at Casper College on Oct. 13.

You will hear from people who have turned their dreams into realities and learn about the resources available in Wyoming to help you do the same. You’ll be able to network with fellow attendees who have ideas and experiences you can learn from. Inventing isn’t easy. Inventors constantly have to learn the latest in patent law or find financing for their inventions. The experts at this conference are there to help with those problems.

This year’s keynote speaker is Nate Storey, who is the co-founder and chief science officer of an indoor vertical farming company called Plenty. As a doctoral student at the University of Wyoming, Storey started experimenting with vertical farming and patented a growing tower that would pack the plants more densely than other designs. His startup business with 43 employees in Laramie grew to a company with more than $200 million in investments and a goal to build indoor farms outside of every major city in the world.

We will have additional speakers at the conference. Tiffany Bishop and Victoria Bryant from the University of Wyoming Research Products Center will discuss patent searching. Toni Tease, an attorney, will discuss intellectual property education. Molly Kocialski is the director of the Rocky Mountain US Patent and Trademark office and will discuss the business case for intellectual property. There will also be three panels that discuss getting an idea off the ground, alternative methods to funding and marketing your product.

The Inventors Conference is free and open to the public. Doors open Oct. 13 at 7:30 a.m. at Casper College and events start at 8:30 a.m. Pre-registration is available now by contacting my state director, Karen McCreery, at (307) 527-9444 or Karen_McCreery@enzi.senate.gov. If you’re unable to pre-register, registration will also be available the morning of the conference.

Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur, a small business owner or recently came up with an idea you’d like to pursue further, everyone is welcome to attend and learn how to build on ideas. I highly encourage anyone interested to register and take advantage of the knowledge and opportunities this conference provides. I hope to see you there.