In 2004, I helped my father, Dr. James Robert Cade, the lead inventor of Gatorade, to establish the Cade Museum. Sixteen years later, it is inspiring the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, and visionaries.
The Gatorade story had a huge influence on my life. I saw first-hand how inventions can transform communities and also witnessed the incredible development of Florida’s innovation economy.
Gatorade’s invention in 1965 helped change Florida from an exporter of produce to an exporter of ideas. Royalties from Gatorade helped jump-start the University of Florida’s new medical school into a research power-house, and continue to provide seed funds for innovative medical research. After a change in US patent law in 1980, partly inspired by Gatorade, Florida’s universities quickly landed among the top patent-producers in the nation.
As a child, I had a proverbial seat at the table and I observed my father’s inventive mindset. I learned that problems don’t overwhelm an inventor, but instead spark curiosity. I want everybody to experience the wonder of life with an inventor, and so every weekend, the Museum features a living inventor, entrepreneur, or visionary to explain their ideas and inventions to whomever walks through the door. Many of these inventors are drawn from the Cade Prize for Innovation. Now in its 11th year, the Prize’s past winners are drawn from Florida’s vibrant research and innovation economy.
Having witnessed how a single invention transformed an entire industry, I want the Cade Museum to transform the entire community. We are made to create, and the Cade Museum is here to help provide the basic mental tools, knowledge, and inspiration to think creatively.
At the Cade, we also want to connect people that don’t normally work together. Just as my dad thought of Gatorade while having coffee with a security guard at Shands Hospital, we want to connect Gainesville’s world-class talent with the underserved and overlooked in Alachua County. Just as one drink brought
enormous benefits to people suffering from dehydration, just one creative individual in a community can make a huge difference to the world. We’re here to make that happen.