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Edison Awards 2021

The 35th Annual Edison Awards will be defying gravity this week and celebrating innovation at and near the winter home of Thomas Edison.  

For the second year in a row, the Edison Awards take place Thursday night at Caloosa Sound Convention Center in downtown Fort Myers with a new slate of honorees and a new look at some of the world’s latest technology and innovations. 

On Friday, Experiential Learning Day will take place as the first event ever held at the adjacent Caloosa Sound Amphitheater, with Southwest Florida high school students being featured for their own innovations.  

Bracken Darrell, CEO of Logitech, and Carmichael Roberts, co-founder of Material Impact, a fund that backs resilient technology companies, each will receive this year’s Edison Achievement Awards. 

“Carmichael Roberts is the chairman of the Bill Gates Sustainability Fund,” said Frank Bonafilia, executive director of the Edison Awards. “He’s responsible for investing $4 billion into these funds. This is Gates’ top project.”  

Darrell presides over a company that designs computer screens and accessories, such as mouses, chairs and earbuds. “He’s the guy to go to,” Bonafilia said of Darrell. “He’s got a design background. He grew the company from under a billion to about $10 billion.” 

An electric jetpack designed by British inventor Richard Browning will be on display as part of the events, which is how gravity will be defied.  

This year also marks the inaugural launch of the Lattimore Fellowship, which recognizes Black innovators and is named for Louis Lattimore, who assisted Alexander Graham Bell with developing the first phones and making innovations to the first light bulbs. The program will include a forum with current and former professional athletes on how to become entrepreneurs and prepare for future careers after their professional sports careers end.  

Byron Jones, a current cornerback for the Miami Dolphins, will be one of the participants. “I’m coming here to get some exposure to things that aren’t really highlighted in today’s media,” he said. “For three or four days, I can be submerged into that space. It’s exposure to the new technology that’s advancing, but also exposure to the people. What goes into being an innovator? We’re trying to achieve things that are being very difficult. You see a lot of synergy between innovators and athletes. There are a lot of connections there.”  

Tickets for Southwest Florida residents cost $675 and more information on attending is available at edisonawards.com.  

Read more about the 25th Annual Edison Awards in the April issue of Gulfshore Business.

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