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Andrew Briosi (1912-1982)

Although Andy Briosi's inventions are specific to the sugar beet industry of southern Alberta, he remains a vital example of an innovative Albertan. In fact, some of his designs are still being used today. 

A portrait of Andrew BriosiAccording to Andy Briosi, necessity is the mother of invention, but laziness is a close cousin. He believed if one could design a machine to make work easier, then it made no sense to do it by hand. It was exactly that mentality that led this well respected Alberta farmer to create a machine that would revolutionize sugar beet harvesting the world over.

Born in 1912 to Italian parents who immigrated from Trieste to Purple Springs, Alberta, Briosi spent most of his life in the agricultural community. By the age of 15 he was working full time in the field. He began with sheep farming and years later moved over into irrigation farming.

Although Briosi created nearly 150 inventions by the end of his life, only four of them were patented. His most significant of these was the lifter wheels used on sugar beet harvesters. Receiving the Canadian patent in 1952, Briosi decided that the invention would be viable in the United States market as well. However, as he applied for the American patent 13 months after he was granted its Canadian equivalent, he was rejected on the basis that he had applied one month late. Briosi sold the patent to Lethbridge farm implement manufacturers Kirchner Machine Ltd. The company continues to use the lifter wheels on their sugar beet harvesters today.

While Briosi’s success as an inventor was somewhat atypical, he remained an advocate of improving the inventor’s process. Similar to many inventors, Briosi’s number of inventions were not accurately represented by the patents he managed to obtain. He was known to comment on the disparity among inventors and the lack of inventions going into production. He believed a government agency should be created not only to review proposals of inventions but also fund them if they were worthwhile.

Briosi was named as a member of the Order of Canada in 1974.

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