Behind the Breakthrough: Jake Russell


Behind the Breakthrough: Jake Russell

March 4, 2015

This week on Behind the Breakthrough, we’re profiling Jake Russell, a member of Intellectual Ventures’ Invention Development Fund. While he usually focuses on software development and innovative computer algorithms, he also applies the process of invention to his passion for cars and racing.

Photo: Jake Russell and his daughter.

Jake works as an Invention Development Manager at Intellectual Ventures. In the past, his breakthrough inventions in software development provided JPEG2000 software products and services for the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) industry.

Here are some of his reflections:

On the process of invention:
“When I think of an invention, I usually start with an important problem and work toward a solution. But effective inventing isn’t about coming up with just any solution; it’s about finding one that’s both useful and practical.  Trying to conceive an invention that’s useful and practical in the future can make you want to look into a crystal ball.”

On the challenges of being an inventor:
“The hardest part about inventing is the time commitment. Good ideas can take a significant amount of time to create and refine into a useful and specific example. There’s this idea that being an inventor means always thinking of radical new concepts that change the world. The reality is that even an incremental development that takes one tiny, but useful and practical step toward solving a problem can be very valuable.  When combined, multiple incremental improvements can collectively enable new and compelling innovations – such as the modern-day smartphone.”

On advice for young inventors:
“The youngest inventors are, in fact, kids of any age who are interested in how things work. My advice for them is to find something you’re passionate about and pursue it creatively. With a hands-on approach, you can easily experiment to increase your knowledge – and that process is the very first step to being an inventor.”

“And don’t forget that communication is important! Effectively explaining your ideas can make you an even better inventor – you’ll be better at convincing the right people that your creation is valuable and can make the world a better place.”

On an invention he would like to see in his lifetime:
“In recent years, there have been some amazing discoveries of tiny particles and related phenomena that seem to underpin everything in our world. I can’t wait to see how we leverage these elementary particles and quantum mechanics in more ways, to turn more of today’s science fiction concepts into tomorrow’s reality.“

“I think some of the most important work happening right now relates to energy development. In my lifetime, I’d love to see practical “hot” or “cold” fusion power generation, which could give us virtually limitless energy with fewer adverse effects.”

“The idea of space exploration has also always piqued my interest. For me, it’s a huge disappointment that we haven’t been back to the moon in my lifetime. I believe we could inspire many young inventors to 'think big' if they saw us on the moon again.”

Follow our Behind the Breakthrough series by subscribing to our IV Insights blog, and check out more quotes from inventors and scientists on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Click here to read our kickoff post on Greg Phelan, and view more inventor profiles through our Inventor Spotlights series.

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