Our Mission

The mission of the USF Young Innovator Competition is to promote innovation and creativity in young people by motivating them to solve problems and improve upon the things around them. In doing so, children discover why education gives them increasingly more powerful tools and resources to solve bigger problems and challenges.

Tax Status

Contest Director

Image: Anton Hopen

Anton Hopen, Founder and Competition Director

Anton Hopen is an 1991 honors graduate of the University of South Florida in Interdisciplinary Science and a 1995 graduate of the University of Florida College of Law where he received the Presidential Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement. Mr. Hopen is admitted to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, all U.S. District Courts in Florida, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He has been recognized as an expert in intellectual property law by the Wall Street Journal which frequently publishes his opinion on complex intellectual property matters.  He represents clients around the world including a substantial base in France, Brazil and Russia. Mr. Hopen regularly lectures at the University of Florida College of Law, Florida State University, and the University of South Florida on intellectual property law. He has also appeared in the Business Journal, Law Review, Money Magazine and Biotechnology Law Report. Mr. Hopen is “AV” rated by Martindale-Hubble and is the director of Innovation Express teaching young students about Intellectual Property Law.  He is Board Certified in Intellectual Property Law by the Florida Bar and is managing partner at Smith & Hopen, U.S. Patent Attorneys. Mr. Hopen was inducted as an Honorary Member of the National Academy of Inventors in 2010.

Background of the Contest

Innovation is a tough business. A small segment of society looks to improve things they see around them. These individuals are fountains of ideas, most of which will never be materialized. That is probably a good thing since only a small fraction of new inventions become profitable. However, without motivation to take risks and think differently we would not have the wonders of modern medicine, computers or spacecraft. Credit is due to a special 9-year old that conceived of the Innovation Express vision. Anna’s new inventions come forth on a daily basis. Having a patent attorney as a father poses benefits and frustration to a child. With each invention new challenges and problems are identified that require solutions. Those new problems drive the need for research, learning and further exploration. Invention is not a single act but a process that can last a lifetime. Innovation comes in incremental steps and, sometimes, in leaps of genius. While Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relatively may be considered the supreme intellectual achievement of the human species, he was only ten years old when a family friend, Max Talmud, introduced him to key science, mathematics and philosophy texts. By nature, children are creative and unconstrained in their thinking. However, creativity and talent are not enough. Without the foundation of a quality education innovative minds lack the tools to bring their inspiration to life. Thus, our objective is to simultaneously foster the creative spirit with an appreciation for the core education needed to make childhood dreams a reality.

Innovation Express Corporation is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit entity working closely with the University of South Florida, National Science Foundation and other non-profit entities. Contact us at  info@innovationexpress.org

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