By Editor Morten B. Reitoft
A few days ago, I listened to a podcast about a Nobel Prize winner from Denmark, Morten Meldal. I don't know what I was expecting, but it surprised me that he was awarded an invention he did more than a decade ago. He was awarded for a tremendously important discovery, namely Click Chemistry.
I will spare you the details, but if you are interested in chemistry, maybe you already know what it is. With All Nobel Prize winners, I soon realized that Nobel Prize winners are awarded for their work years after the invention.
It makes sense and puts disruptors in perspective.
Elon Musk - mentioned several times in my previous article, probably did many things before being named one of our time's most important inventors and disruptors. All of the Nobel Prize winners are probably disruptors, and funny enough shows how language and perception change with time.
In this article, I want to share a story about one of the major disruptors of the last century. His name was Frank Charles Whittle. Whittle was born in Coventry in 1907 and died in the US in August 1996. Whittle was a disruptor who almost failed, as he wasn't recognized for his invention, nor was he able to raise enough money for the invention initially. In 1921 Whittle was awarded a patent for the jet engine, and after a lot of work to get the idea recognized, he finally got to produce a working prototype, which became the foundation for the jet engines we know today.
It took years from idea to realization, and maybe the jet engine as we know it today would have been invented regardless of Whittle; I can't help but think about perspective.
In my previous article, I wrote that we don't have disruptors like the ones I mentioned in the article, but maybe we have? Perhaps, the engineers working on the latest iterations of inkjet printheads will someday be recognized for inventions that change the world.
I was fortunate to visit the Seiko Open House in 2022 and meet some of the industry's pioneers here. I want to suggest a name to follow. His name is Tri Tuladhar. He graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2001. He has worked with Xaar and, in the past 11+ years, in his company, Trijet. When I met him, he explained to me things I had never even thought of, and after getting to know him, I realized that when we see a new Inkjet-based printer at a tradeshow, we don't even realize the work has gone into it.
I am not in a position to compare Whittle with Tuladhar, but what I think is a lesson to learn is how important it is for all companies to identify exceptionalism and encourage innovation in all its forms and flavors.
Whittle engineered the principles for a jet engine and realized them with the help of people and companies with money. Today, it's impossible to imagine planes without jet engines, but the next type of engine is maybe developed today by another young engineer? Whittle was 22 years old when he designed and understood the jet engine, and today it has played an enormous role in how we travel.
Let's keep an eye on individuals making a difference!