Edison Awards and the impact on youth: Moore About Business
Executive Director Frank Bonafilia has described the 36th annual international Edison Awards as the Oscar awards for the field of innovation. Named for the pre-eminent innovator and 40-year Fort Myers resident Thomas Edison, the event is in its third year, and will be returning to Fort Myers for the next 5 years.
This day and a half event in April honors innovators from around the globe and includes well-renowned speakers, panel discussions and showcases the brightest people and ideas. Innovators from close to 30 countries and 25 states came to Fort Myers to participate.
For me, the exciting parts of the Awards are those that inspire and honor innovation in our youth. Justin Brand, of the Charlotte Community Foundation in Charlotte County which sponsors the Young Edison Challenge, explains this event.
“The Young Edison Challenge is an opportunity for our youth, our innovators, our entrepreneurs to showcase their designs, their products and hopefully one day, it will be used daily by each one of us,” said Brand.
More than 60 students from around the world applied for the 2023 Young Edison Challenge honor.
Two students from Naples who were honored at the event will be featured in a future story.
Another inspiration for youth are professional athletes who are innovators and investors on a business “pitch panel.” Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones, a business investor and entrepreneur, was back for his second year on this panel.
"I wanted the children to see how expansive success can be in this world for them," said Jones. "I don’t think many kids know about venture capital, they don’t know about being a developer, they don’t know about real estate, so hopefully we’ll run over these topics very quickly for them.”
The key for Jones is to demonstrate to young people that anything is possible.
"Hopefully the kids can pick up on, 'Ok, I can do what Byron’s doing.' I want them to realize there’s so many versions of success in this world that you may not know exists, but it definitely exists for them.”
He shares words of wisdom for young innovators are:
"If you have an idea, something you’re interested in, follow that curiosity. There’s YouTube videos... there’s books, there’s people in that field.", said Jones. "So if you’re curious about something, go all in!"
Karen Moore is a contributing partner for WGCU and the publisher of SWFL Business Today.