Anne Swift, 23, has dealt a serious blow to the popular image of the eccentric old inventor. Swift began chipping away at the stereotype in 2000 when she founded Young Inventors International after trying unsuccessfully to patent her idea for a flexible computer keyboard. The not-for-profit organization now has more than 600 members worldwide.
Young Inventors provides resources, training and a network of mentors to help inventors under 35 bring their ideas to market. “These young people are coming up with things that could have a huge impact on society, everything from new well technologies for rural communities to medical devices,” says Swift, who in 2003 was named one of Glamour magazine’s “top 10 college women who will change the world.”
On top of running Young Inventors, she manages her company Anne Swift Communications, which develops campaign strategies for small- and medium-sized businesses. She is also an active public speaker on innovation and entrepreneurship.
Swift, who is studying politics and economics at U of T and expects to graduate with a bachelor of arts this fall, says one of her goals is to increase Young Inventors International’s presence in developing countries. “Perhaps I say this naively, but I’m interested in social innovation – ways of making the world a better place.”