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Tribute to LGBTQ+ inventors and entrepreneurs

Joint blog of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA)

This month, the U.S. Department of Commerce celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and honors the many LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and innovators who help fulfill the promise of America for All. Below, we share the stories of a few community leaders and the ways our agencies are advancing inclusive innovation for the betterment of society.

Rothblatt, left, and the team at United Therapeutics’ Organ Manufacturing Group in Manchester, NH, holding a lung they are able to 3D print from human collagen fibers grown in tobacco plants genetically modified with help from Texas A&M University (Photo courtesy of United Therapeutics).

Dr. Martine Rothblatt is an entrepreneur, innovator, lawyer, author, film producer and social activist. Faced with daunting challenges throughout her life, Rothblatt learned to push back against the idea of ​​the insurmountable. His long list of accomplishments includes creating and commercializing satellite radio, founding a biotechnology company that seeks to provide an unlimited supply of transplantable organs, setting world records for electric flight, defending of transgender rights and deepening the future of the artificial. intelligence (AI) with his work on digital immortality. Rothblatt holds over 80 patents. For more, check out “Persistence Is Omnipotent,” the USPTO’s history of innovation journeys about Rothblatt.

Bilenko with the invention of Mr. Brainlove

Bilenko examines a prototype of Dr. Brainlove, an interactive art car inspired by scans of his own brain. (Photo courtesy of Asako Miyakawa)

Scientist Natalia Bilenko develops AI tools that are transparent and usable by everyone. An accomplished inventor, she was named on five patents at the age of 37. At medical device company Caption Health, she is working on using AI to make ultrasound scanners easier to use. The company’s cutting-edge AI-guided scanner was named one of Time Magazine’s “Top 100 Inventions of 2021”. The technology is designed to detect heart problems at an early stage and could be particularly useful for people who live in rural areas far from experienced cardiologists and ultrasound technicians. Bilenko, whose interests span the intersection of AI and art, co-created the world’s first interactive exhibit to use real-time brain activity, called Cognitive Technologies, for the Exploratorium from San Francisco. As a visible role model in the AI ​​community and organizer of Queer in AI, Bilenko ensures that the field welcomes the ideas and perspectives of all scientists. For more, see the USPTO’s Journeys of Innovation article on Bilenko, “Artificial Intelligence for All.”

The Department of Commerce not only celebrates these entrepreneurs, but also strives to support others like them. The USPTO hosts a number of events that help advance equity in innovation, including this month’s popular Proud in Innovation series, and has launched new resources such as our Innovation page inclusive. These programs and events inspire and encourage inventors and entrepreneurs from all walks of life to develop their ideas and seek intellectual property protection for them to bring about real change and improve our world.

In conjunction with Thrive West Central, EDA recently capitalized a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) that will provide critical gap financing to LGBTQ+ and other minority-owned small businesses. Among its initiatives, the Intentional Outreach Network undertakes dedicated outreach to the LGBTQ+ community to empower, guide, promote, enhance, connect and develop LGBTQ+ business leaders and entrepreneurs. Potential borrowers from underserved populations – including the LGBTQ+ community – or those who are committed to employing people from these communities, will be prioritized for loans.

Expanding opportunity and creating an economy that works for all Americans is central to the mission of the Department of Commerce and strategic plan. The Economics and Development Administration and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are proud to join all offices of commerce in celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and recognizing their significant contributions to the economy, competitiveness and to the growth of our country.

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