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Good morning and welcome to the 2016 Inventors Conference.  This conference is near and dear to my heart and I’m excited to be hosting it for the thirteenth year in my hometown of Gillette. I know times are tough here and I’ve been working hard to fight the war on energy, but one thing I know is that when times are tough, folks in Wyoming are tougher. You get creative and find innovative ways to bring new ideas to the forefront to create industry and livelihoods. Innovation is one of the keys to our success as a nation – we’re built on the premise that our ideas can lead to the creation of products, businesses, jobs, and wealth. The concepts of innovation, entrepreneurship and hard work have buoyed our country into the most economically powerful nation in the world. These concepts are also alive and well in Wyoming, and right here in Gillette.

Over the years that I’ve been hosting this conference, I’ve marveled at the ideas that abound in Wyoming and have been gratified to observe the entrepreneurial ingenuity that is exhibited all over the state. From speakers at the conference who have patented their ideas and started businesses, to attendees with ideas they’ve modeled, patented or are looking to patent, my message to you today is that it IS possible, and it’s possible in Wyoming.

That’s why we’re all here today. To learn from entrepreneurs who have turned their ideas into a business, to learn about the resources available in Wyoming to help you do the same, and to network with your fellow attendees who also have ideas and experiences you can learn from. This event wouldn’t be possible without the availability of facility like Gillette College, so I want to thank the folks at the College for having us here today. I’d also like to thank our Master of Ceremonies, and a longtime friend of mine, Gregg Blikre, for keeping the conference on track today. Today’s speakers and panelists join us from all over Wyoming and neighboring states as well, so I’d like to thank them for taking the time to be here and share their knowledge and experiences with all of us today. I also want to give a special thanks to our keynote speaker, Bill Gillette, the Founder and CEO of LogiLube, LLC, who is here to share the expertise he’s gained over 35 years, including patenting ideas and launching new businesses. I’m excited to hear his presentation and even more thrilled that he’s growing his business down in Laramie, Wyoming.

I think it’s important for the keynote speaker of this event to have spent some time where you’re sitting – from start to finish – from the inception of an idea, through the ups and downs of turning that idea into a reality, and finally, hopefully a business and livelihood you can maintain right here in Wyoming.  Wyoming has had a history of trial and error that has led to a robust number of patents.  Since our territorial days, there have been thousands of inventions patented in Wyoming and I attribute this to our state’s frontier spirit and can-do attitude.  I’m hopeful the Inventors Conference will augment those attributes by helping provide you with some of the knowledge and resources you need to be successful.

The conference will guide you, the entrepreneur, by arming you with the information you need to help take your idea from the garage to the assembly line.  We know that inventing isn’t easy.  Inventors constantly have to learn the latest in patent law or find financing for their inventions and once you have a product, you have to figure out who needs it and how to reach them. The experts at this conference are here to help with those problems.  As you will learn from our keynote speaker and presenters, inventing and sustaining a business from your inventions doesn’t always yield instant results and requires hard work and perseverance. Even the most noted inventors experienced failure and had to go back to the drawing board more than once. Indeed, failure is often an integral part in achieving success in the creation and refinement of their inventions.

Wyoming provided the back drop for such an experience for one of the most famous inventors of all time, Thomas Edison. On a trip to Wyoming to view an historic total eclipse of the sun in 1878, Edison performed an experiment with a tasimeter (tass-e-miter), a device he was developing to measure infrared radiation. He spent ten days preparing for the solar eclipse and when it came on July 29th, his experiment failed. In the end, the device was too sensitive for extremes in temperature brought about during the eclipse. Although this experiment failed, Edison would go on to develop many other inventions, including the solution to incandescent lighting the following year. His trip wasn’t a complete failure though – later in the trip he was able to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes, reportedly catching some 3,000 fish before leaving Wyoming.   

Because of its natural riches, Wyoming has long been known as an agricultural and fossil fuel producing state. With thousands of historic inventions and patents coming from these industries, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that Wyoming is also home to many filing patents on 21st century inventions and patents. The men and women of Wyoming never cease to amaze me with their creativity and originality. For example, I can highlight inventors like Joan Sheridan, who patented numerous original Christmas stockings and at one point was one of the most prolific female patent holders in the country. Or another inventor,  Dr. Randy Lewis, of the University of Wyoming who has continually worked with spider silk to develop synthetics with strengths greater than Kevlar and more elastic than nylon. He currently has 19 different patents building off of his continued research with spiker silk. No matter the topic or area of interest, there is one thing for sure and that is that Wyoming will continue to be on the forefront of innovation.

So why are we here? We’re here to help you understand the steps needed to get you through the patent process, why you should go through this process, the scope of resources available to you in Wyoming, funding options to consider and finally, a discussion about when and how you should think about marketing your invention, whether it’s a product or idea you can turn into a business.

I know we have great ideas in Wyoming. In fact, there is a good chance that the idea for the next, “made in Wyoming product” is in this room. Inventors turn everyday challenges into solutions and it is this innovation that allows the United States to remain competitive in the global marketplace. It is always an exciting opportunity to hold this conference and talk to all of you who are looking to turn your ideas into an invention, and a business.  I’m hopeful you get the information and help you need from today’s conference. In addition to listening to our speakers, I encourage you to visit our vendors in the hall and take advantage of our breakout session to talk directly with our speakers to answer any questions you may not be able to get in during their presentations. I’m thrilled you’re all here and I look forward to speaking with you individually to hear about your ideas, too.  Thank you again for your attendance.  Enjoy the conference!