An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

“Failures are true friends” — Every setback, however painful, does have a silver lining. A lesson about a method, technique, or preparative steps that did not yield the anticipated result. Build a mindset where you can gamify failures and see the point of learning from the situation that is otherwise defeating. I have often been able to revive former failures under a new set of circumstances, but now with the benefit of experience and knowledge of what to do differently.

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Sudeepto Roy, inventor, tech executive and co-founder of The Inventor’s Patent Academy.

Sudeepto is presently a Vice President of Engineering at Qualcomm Incorporated in San Diego, CA. Over nearly three decades at Qualcomm, Sudeepto has held many pioneering and strategic roles in engineering development, global customer engineering, product planning, and ecosystem enablement projects with startups, universities, and governments. Outside of work, he volunteers at and serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations related to children’s education; safety from firearms; community cohesiveness; diversity, racial justice, and equitable outcomes; and actionable sustainability initiatives. Sudeepto joined forces with a team of experts in their respective fields, and collaborated with Invent Together to launch an online learning platform, The Inventor’s Patent Academy, or TIPA, aimed at guiding inventors from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds through the benefits of the patent system and the process of turning their breakthroughs into patented inventions.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Right out of graduate school, I was fortunate to join a then-young company in San Diego called Qualcomm, where the startup-borne culture of thinking broadly, thinking collaboratively, thinking innovatively, staying fiscally sound, and having the grit and patience to sustain multi-year research is still celebrated. While there are many interesting stories that shaped my career choices, a peculiar common thread is that I rarely had to apply for or seek out new projects inside Qualcomm — preceding each new career direction inside Qualcomm, project executives starting brand new initiatives would reach out internally, saying “come join us, get our innovations out to a new key customer, or get this project launched in a brand new country, and in the process, build awareness and get our technologies closer to the customer.” The motivation for TIPA started out the same way when Alex Rogers, Qualcomm’s Division President for Technology Licensing and Global Affairs, and Invent Together Executive Director Holly Fechner came away from an expert fireside chat on inventor and patentee diversity in December 2020. After this event, the question Alex asked us was: how can we meaningfully add to the body of work that helps every American inventor fully participate in the US patenting system?

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Gosh, there are so many intriguing stories that it’d be difficult to highlight the “most interesting one,” but let me tell you a recent one — helping the American Inventor. Earlier in April, I was invited to be part of a Qualcomm team in Washington DC to participate in the USPTO’s National Inventors Hall of Fame exhibit in Alexandria, VA and the induction ceremony for the world’s foremost accomplished inventors. It was a magical evening. Their inventions have literally changed our lives: Voice Over Internet Protocols, laser dermatology, enhancing produce freshness, the sports bra, and so much more. We may be facing challenging times, but seeing the spirit of innovation alive and that we can come together to celebrate the inventors was healing and uplifting. When you are feeling down and uncertain, take a moment to read about an inventor’s life story — their struggles, their brilliant insights, their perseverance, and, ultimately, the impact of their invention on the lives of so many. Their stories are instant, inspirational elixirs!

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

“Give more than you take and help more than you are helped.” — As you look back, it is eye-opening to recount the set of fortunate circumstances underlying your own hard work, talent, and passion that contribute in unison to your successes. The gifts of nourishing family relationships, great education from pre-K through grad school, working at a company of well-meaning and competent individuals, and being able to reside in a generally fair society with access to ample resources from clean food, air, water, world-class health care, and access to cutting-edge technology… Some call them blessings. Others call them privileges. Many take them for granted. Yet, the fact remains that we consume a lot of resources to sustain ourselves through the relatively short period we spend on this planet. I simply ask myself, what can I do in return to leave this place a bit better than I found it? What can I do more to help someone else with my talents or expertise or simply support them emotionally, physically, financially, or educationally to meet success in their own journeys?

Also, it is rare in one’s career to find alignment between personal passions and the jobs your employer actually pays you for. Working on the TIPA course for helping underrepresented inventors, I found a perfect match with my beliefs and life experiences. Around WWII, my grandparents fled as refugees from what would eventually become Bangladesh into India, escaping war and fear of religious persecution. All they had was their education, talent, and desire to work hard in a new country that welcomed them. I grew up and lived first in India and for two-thirds of my life here in the US, in fair, democratic systems that reward meritocracy. What are the blessings that worked well for my forefathers and myself that can be brought to bear on all my brothers and sisters here in the US? How can I help make the many outstanding gifts of the US system that have worked so well for me more accessible to others?

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

You’ve certainly heard the proverb, “give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach them to fish instead, and you feed them for a lifetime.” The Big Idea is to democratize access to knowledge, know-how, and resources. The goal behind the Big Idea is to enable the know-how of protecting one’s intellectual property to anyone interested, especially in the areas we are fortunate to operate in, such as advanced communications and computing technologies and advanced business techniques. Using patents to protect intellectual property can present challenges, since patenting can be an arcane area of law and is highly specialized and complex. How can we make this topic accessible and familiar to inventors of all backgrounds, especially those who have not typically been able to benefit from the protections of intellectual property law? This goal was the motivation behind investing time and energy in crafting the TIPA course.

The course was authored by diversity consultant Erin Kelley based in Virginia, Patent Agent and intellectual property rights (IPR) law educator Dr. Bernie Greenspan based in San Diego, Aiko Bethea, executive coach and inclusivity consultant, and several other experts, who collaborated for over a year with Invent Together to develop the patent e-learning course. This free course teaches about patent law through the lens of the inventive and patenting journeys of five inventors of diverse backgrounds. The course discusses the challenges and barriers typically faced by inventors who are underrepresented in our patent system and historically excluded from patent-heavy science and engineering fields, including women, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQIA, people from lower-income communities, veterans, and people with disabilities.

How do you think this will change the world?

A study by the World Bank that I came across showed that every extra year of education contributes to an increase in income. This statistic is an astounding testament to the return on investment of education efforts. In developed economies, the pressure of quickly adopting new technologies and innovations, rapid technological obsolescence, which occurs when technology becomes outdated because more advanced models have been introduced, and global competitiveness make the need for investment in specialized education even more pronounced. Almost every area of human activity has become interdisciplinary. Previously, distinct branches of study and research, such as medicine, engineering, or public policy, now intertwine, giving birth to highly interdisciplinary areas ranging from biomedical engineering to robotics, to the myriad applications of artificial intelligence, the study of complex problems like climate change, or finding new renewable energy sources. Another good example is the patent law field — a patent lawyer essentially has two degrees, one degree in a science or engineering area and a law degree, plus additional training and specialization in patent law. While creating the TIPA course, keeping this multidisciplinary aspect of today’s knowledge systems in mind was paramount to us. In the course, we remind the inventors of their core values that help center their goals and inventing objectives; we help them understand potential challenges and barriers they may face and give them tools to overcome them; we discuss patent law concepts and the way the USPTO patent application and prosecution process works, and also illustrate these concepts through story snippets from five inventors who have experienced each phase of these processes. We hope that access to this knowledge gives an inventor, who is already an expert in their field, additional leverage and motivation to also think about protecting their hard-earned intellectual property and potentially use those rights in a lucrative way.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

This is an important question. No idea works or prospers in isolation. As much as we are proud of the TIPA course and are hopeful of its impactful role for inventors of all backgrounds, there are other huge gaps that this course touches upon, but the course’s scope doesn’t allow us to fully explore a solution. For instance, how do we increase the STEM pipeline of women inventors in fields that have an underrepresentation of women, e.g., many engineering disciplines vs. life sciences. Another area that needs to be solved is access to funding for the initial set of patents for which every inventor or startup needs to find money — this is often an insurmountable barrier, especially for startups. Should they use their scarce funding for salaries and product development or for the expense of patenting? Thirdly, how can we strengthen the US patent system so that more inventive subject matters are eligible, and also, once granted, patents are enforceable? So, courses like TIPA are only impactful as part of a suite of interconnected tools that work together to solve the overall problem of underrepresentation in inventive and patenting fields.

Was there a “tipping point” that led to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

We had already done courses in other countries in Europe and India to improve understanding of advanced technology research (at startups and universities) and intellectual property rights in those countries. Given the preponderance of excellent IPR courses in our country, here in the US, we didn’t realize or appreciate the urgency of bringing this type of education to underrepresented inventors. Towards the end of 2020, our Division President Alex Rogers participated with Invent Together Executive Director Holly Fechner in a panel discussion on “Promoting Diversity in US Innovation” with then USPTO Director Andrei Iancu and Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, and two professors and leading economists about improving diversity in IP filings and steps that can be taken, particularly for female inventor participation. Also, through the USPTO’s Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2), there was a call to action to the business community (who are among the most prominent filers of patents) to help improve access to patenting education among inventors. These two were our calls to arms.

The core team, working with Invent Together, planned the TIPA course the following quarter with a very intentional focus on the barriers and challenges faced by underrepresented inventors, secured internal funding, assembled a team of experts both in patent law and diversity, equity, and inclusion, found a great creative agency who could bring the course to life in an online/multimedia format, collaborated very closely with Invent Together, and then set about crafting the course in 2021, beta-tested it in June 2022 and then launched it in July 2022.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

We need students! We invite inventors who are pursuing undergraduate degrees, are in grad school, researchers at universities or in small/medium enterprises, startups, or government laboratories to take the course. We are looking for all American inventors, especially those who are yet to be fully represented in our patent system. We aim to speak with over 125 organizations that partner with Invent Together, colleges and universities, startups and business incubation organizations, professional societies, and veteran support organizations. This discussion with the Authority Magazine is a great step to help us reach our audience! Spread the word and request folks to check out the TIPA course at

Beyond spreading the word about the course, consider supporting organizations that promote STEM education, inventor, and patenting diversity.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

“Murphy’s Law — Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Bad things not only do happen, but they can occur at the worst possible time. The antidote is good planning, and for some critical instances, having not only a backup but the backup of a backup and some degree of tolerance for setbacks. A sad example is the numerous situations that arose during our TIPA course creation effort related to the many cruel blows of COVID on our colleagues and their loved ones.

“Failures are true friends” — Every setback, however painful, does have a silver lining. A lesson about a method, technique, or preparative steps that did not yield the anticipated result. Build a mindset where you can gamify failures and see the point of learning from the situation that is otherwise defeating. I have often been able to revive former failures under a new set of circumstances, but now with the benefit of experience and knowledge of what to do differently.

“Seek out experience. Talk with people. Make networking a habit.” — Often in life, even if you feel that you are on your own unique journey, with your own unique set of circumstances, it turns out that there are others who have walked these paths. They have similar experiences but not the same. Talk with them. Find out what worked, what did not work, and what strategies and preparation they undertook. Throughout writing the TIPA course, we spoke with many experts in the diversity outreach and IP education field and carefully noted their comments, suggestions, and words of caution.

“Things will take longer and cost more than originally planned” — Even the most meticulous and realistic planners underestimate the interconnectedness of events and outcomes. Build into your plan some cushion for both time and money and tolerance for minor setbacks along the way. For instance, we originally planned to launch TIPA on World IP Day (which is April 26th), but it took nearly three more months to allow for more thorough testing, more curation of the video content, and modifications to make sure that the tonality of the course matched that of the target audience.

“Partner and delegate.” — It is way more fun doing projects with multiple talented people. In crafting TIPA, we had colleagues from all over the US work collaboratively over five quarters. We found a way to work together and brought the best out of law experts, diversity experts, policy experts, creative writers, videographers, copy editors, web designers, program managers, and interns! We had intense multi-hour video discussions and vigorous email debates, got upset with each other, and then came to a mutual understanding, and due to COVID, worked almost entirely online. It is only later this month that we will have our first in-person get-together, and I am really looking forward to it.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

I touched on positivity, friendships, and resilience in speaking about things I wish I knew before I started. One big element of a “success habit” is remembering our childlike curiosity and openness to new experiences — these encompass many traits and habits, such as making or learning a daily habit, holding back on being judgmental, and immersing oneself fully in the task at hand. Having childlike curiosity is a blessing in adult life, not naivete! There’s a lot we can learn from children and a lot we can relate to from when we were once children.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

In my work at Qualcomm I’ve been involved in helping launch deep-technology startups in several countries, including India, Taiwan, and Vietnam. We look for early-stage startups at the pre-series A funding stage and incubate them in annual cycles, offering technology, business, and IPR mentorship. We do this in an equity-free manner, so we never have any ownership of the business, which is really appreciated by the startups. At Qualcomm, we know that deep-technology development takes patience and grit.

Similarly, investing in startups that can use advanced technologies such as 5G, edge-AI, and robotics to solve their own country’s needs and problems can help identify future leaders three, four, or five years in advance. My hope is that The Inventors Patent Academy will help kickstart the interest of all inventors in creating these startups. In order to help give those start-ups a better chance to grow, my request to VCs is to take a slightly longer time horizon, especially for deep-technology startups. If you can help them in scale, enough winners will remain that will make your own business and, of course, their businesses successful and worthwhile. Qualcomm companies have already helped more than 125 startups worldwide in this fashion, and they’ve done everything from launching satellites to applying AI for cutting-edge medical treatment to making cities, homes, and industries safe and productive. These startups have cumulatively raised more than $200 million, had many successful exits, filed hundreds of patents of their own, and launched many groundbreaking products and services. If we had relied only on the established electronics giants in the world, these use cases of advanced technology would have taken longer to develop or not have happened at all.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

To keep up with the latest news on The Inventor’s Patent Academy, follow Invent Together on Twitter @invent_together, I’m not a big user of social media myself, but I am active on LinkedIn (’m not a big user of social media myself, but I am active on LinkedIn ( and occasionally post on Twitter (@SudeeptoRoy5).

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

The Inventor’s Patent Academy: Sudeepto Roy Of Qualcomm’s Big Idea That Might Change The World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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