Calling all budding inventors…

I was approached by a group of student inventors with questions about their idea for an invention.  They were full of questions about how to get their product developed and noticed by investors. I am not an inventor myself but I have had the privilege of advising a few  inventors and I studied the Advanced Course in Design, Manufacture and Management at Cambridge University.

There are a lot a way of going about your invention but I believe that 3 steps that are essential to initiating the invention process are:

1.Protect your idea intellectual property – Protect your idea by filing a patent application as soon as possible. A “patent pending” application is enough to get you notice by more investors.  You can do this yourself or get a patent attorney to do it for a premium. Only discuss your idea with people after they have signed a Non-disclosure form. Read more on protecting your idea from business link.

2. Refine your idea with a design engineer – Your idea for a product needs to be refined. This is done best by a design engineer who will develop computer aided drawings. The great design could make your idea a commercial success. It is very important to get a design engineer on board from the onset because they will help you refine your idea and spot any flaws in the concept before investing in the all important functional prototype. Your first point of call if you are really new to this is to contact your local university. They will usually have an engineering or design centre who can recommend design engineers.

3. Prototype it – Nobody believes in an idea until they’ve seen a working prototype. Your prototype is  your proof that your idea works. It shouldn’t break the bank! It should just be a cheap functional version of your idea to prove that your idea works. That is what investors want to see. You can outsource this to a design consultancy firm that can manufacture and test your prototypes or you can do it yourself. The Asian market is full of cheap manufacturers who will produce a prototype for a fraction of what UK manufacturers will charge but this is the more stressful route.

There are government grants and funding to get you through this initial phase but a lot of it is down to your persistence and how passionate you are about your idea. With these 3 ingredients you increase your chances of attracting investors and turning your idea into a commercial product.

Picture by courtesy of Noldyx Designs

 

Griselda K Togobo

by Griselda K Togobo | Follow Her on Twitter Here

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. European patent attorney

    Dear Griselda,

    Thank you for the great summary of the essential steps to place a produce sucessfully on the market. As a patent attorney in Europe, I advise my client to first produce a prototype of the invention (your step 3), and only with the working prototype in hands contact a patent attorney and have the patent application drafted and filed (your step 1).

    This procedure has the following advantages:

    1) If the invention cannot be put into practice because of fundamental flaws in the concept, the inventor will save the money he would otherwise spent on trying to patent the non-working invention. The patent register is already quite packed with patent applications relating to “perpetui mobile”, which have never been tested in practice by the inventors. Don’t expect anyone buying a lincense for these patent applications.

    2) Secondly, a qualified patent attorney will be able to derive from a working prototype the technical features or feature combinations for drafting good patent claims, which will maximize patent protection compared to a situation where only a general concept is available. Some features will only be apparent from the final product, but not from a general idea.

    We recommend this strategy to inventors both, in the fields of mechanics as well as in the fields of chemistry/pharmacy, because in both fields patent protection can be jeopadized, if the applications do not sufficiently disclose the invention, e.g. if the applications are filed on a very early stage.

  2. Dirk

    First time inventors who would like to prepare for their initial interview with a patent attorney are recommended to read the following check list:

    http://blog.franke-ip.com/en/inventor-interview/

    If the inventors are properly prepared the interview will be more efficient, making the most of the money spent on the attorneys.

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