CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hurricane native Dr. Mark Bates was working as a disc jockey after high school when he developed his first invention. He wanted a laser light show for dances he worked. So he invented one.
More than 60 U.S.-issued and pending patents later, Bates believes there are other potentially successful entrepreneurs in West Virginia.
"There are some really bright people here, and we need to come together and understand that we can make a difference working together," Bates said. "It's that long-standing history of curiosity and solving problems."
Bates, whose patents include devices in various medical areas including stents, embolic protection, gene therapy, stem-cell implantation and others, was the keynote speaker Tuesday at the fourth annual West Virginia Bioscience Summit, in Charleston.
"There's a difference between discovery, invention and innovation," said Bates, a renowned physician and founder and CEO of Nexeon MedSystems, in California. "Innovation is something that changes our lives for the better."
Bates got his start in West Virginia. He attended the West Virginia University School of Medicine and completed his surgical residency in West Virginia.
Bates said there are a lot of similarities among scientists, physicians and "end-user innovators." It's the mindset of the innovator that sets them apart.
"They tend to be eclectic, they don't like to lose, and they're very creative," Bates said.
Since starting his career 25 years ago, the field of bioscience has changed.
"You were either making a pill or a device," Bates said. "Today it covers a lot of areas."
It's about linking ideas with the right people and places.
"You can have a great discovery or idea, but you have to be able to execute it to market and create a commonality to society," Bates said.
Bates talked about his timid beginnings. In his first two to three months as a resident surgeon, when he had the chance to scrub in on a surgery, he often allowed someone to take his place.
He soon noticed that, with that attitude, he was losing ground with his peers.