Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Inventors online survey

Researchers at the Caparo Innovation Centre, University of Wolverhampton, are interested in developing guidelines that help independent inventors, like you, achieve commercial success with their inventions.
We are particularly interested in your views on licensing. Licensing involves an inventor providing a business with permission to use the intellectual property connected with their invention in return for a royalty on sales.
We have developed an online survey, which is open to all UK based independent inventors. You do not need to have successfully licensed the rights to your invention in order to take part.
Details of the survey:
1. The survey will take between 10 - 15 minutes to complete.
2. The survey will ask questions about you, your current, or most recent, invention and your perception of licensing.
3. No risks or discomforts are anticipated from taking part in this study. If you feel uncomfortable with a question, you can withdraw from the study altogether. If you decide to quit at any time before you have finished the questionnaire, your answers will NOT be recorded
4.     Your responses will be kept completely confidential. We will NOT know your IP address when you respond to the Internet survey. You do have the option of adding your name and contact details at the end of the survey, but only if you wish to take part in further research
5.     Your participation is voluntary; you are free to withdraw your participation from this study at any time. If you do not want to continue, you can simply leave the website.
6.     The results of the study will be used for scholarly purposes only. The results from the study will be presented in educational settings and at professional conferences, and the results might be published in a professional journal in the field of new product introduction.
7.     A summary of the results will be available to respondents that request a copy.
8.     By beginning the survey, you acknowledge that you have read this information and agree to participate in this research, with the knowledge that you are free to withdraw your participation at any time without penalty.
To access the online survey, please click here or paste the following address into your Internet search engine: http://survey.wlv.ac.uk/survey.asp?s=01244120105121089009

Gavin Smeilus
Caparo Innovation Centre
Department of Engineering
University of Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton Science Park
WV10 9RU
Tel: 01902 321765
Email: G.E.Smeilus@wlv.ac.uk

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sharon Wright Leeds Inventors Group 16th March 2011

Sharon Wright is one of the most successful competitors to ever appear on the BBC programme “Dragons Den” and her talk at the inventors group meeting created a lot of interest.

She described how she came up with the product “Magnamole” – a device for threading cables through cavity walls – which she eventually took to the dragons. What many people don’t realise is that Sharon had already achieved significant success with the product before approaching the dragons. In spite of working 9 – 5 as a sales rep and being a single mum she had set up her own company Talpa Products and by working through her nights had achieved large sales and won the award of “British Inventor of the Year” (followed up by a number of international awards). However she was hoping that with assistance from the dragons this could be taken to another level.
As with everything Sharon has done she was thoroughly prepared for the “Dragons Den” pitch and this was one of the things which impressed them so much. As she pointed out this is very important in so many areas, particularly in business – try to foresee what will come up, and try to know the people who you will be dealing with. She described her pitch in front of the cameras, which lasted for around 90 minutes. Much of this, of course, is not seen in the final cut.

The response to the programme from the viewing public was enormous with offers of congratulations and sometimes offers of business. However things didn’t work out as Sharon had hoped. The money, infrastructure and support which she had expected didn’t materialise and while she was waiting for this assistance cash-flow problems developed. She also discovered that assistance from one of the Dragons would actually be chargeable and any investment – which she was still waiting for – would be a loan.

Things began to unravel and Sharon described how her business difficulties exacerbated her life-long battle with bulimia and she hit rock bottom. Feeling unable to cope she decided that writing a book of her experiences might be therapeutic. Unable to find a publisher willing to take the book on because of the controversy with the dragons she published it herself. “Mother of Invention: How I Won Dragons Den, Lost My Mind, Nearly Lost My Business and Ended up Reinventing Myself” is a powerful insight into what it takes to run a business and develop new products and how one person coped with all the difficulties thrown at her by sheer determination.

Sharon is now back on her feet and has new investment in her business. “Magnamole” is selling extremely well and her legal action against dragon James Caan is ongoing. As Sharon said dedication and self-belief is vital to anyone wanting to develop a new business or a new product and, as her example shows, a tremendous amount of hard work is a basic requirement.

From Dragons Den to Leeds Library | Leeds Daily Photo - Leeds in Yorkshire Photography

Patent Clinic - University of Hull 12th April

Monday, 4 April 2011

FREE FactSheets available for inventors

Available now FREE factsheets from the Complete Business Reference Adviser:

COBRA is a comprehensive, practical and continually updated information resource for anyone looking to start a business, write a business or marketing plan or conduct research into a new market.
We now have an online subscription to COBRA - the Complete Business Reference Adviser.
Access is available in all our libraries and from your home/work using your Leeds Library membership number.

It can be accessed:
Directly on any Leeds Learning Network computer (available at any Leeds public library) there is a link in the online resources section, no membership card number needed
From home:
By using the COBRA link on http://www.leeds.gov.uk/24hourlibrary Leeds Library membership number is required.

Free library membership - join online at http://www.leeds.gov.uk/ , join by phone on 0113 3952313 or join in person at any Leeds library (proof of id and address required).

Ipeology – Leeds Inventors Group – 16th February 2011

Ipeology are a Manchester – based design company working in a creative environment in an old mill alongside other designers and artists. Director Damien Vesey explained how the company came together after he and some of the other designers worked at Salford University helping students particularly in the area of production, prototyping and packaging before consolidating the team when working for a company developing equipment and products for large sports companies.

As well as developing products for others they also work on their own products and have built up a significant number of contacts both here and abroad in manufacturing and retail. Damien explained the process which Ipeology uses to determine whether they can work with a customer who approaches them. This process involves questionnaires, confidentiality agreements, project assessment meetings and finally a contract. They can take a product from the idea stage through development, prototyping, testing and packaging. Very often they take what the customer has done already and may develop it further. As an example Damien described how they had worked with Kin Kam on his” iicap” and developed it into a clip which can work on any cap.

Damien and his team went on to describe some of the other products they have been involved with (and several of which they had brought along for the audience to study) including “Bugzy” a folding trolley with which to transport canoes. This was developed from the inventor’s original cardboard model which he had brought to Ipeology. Numerous other examples were passed around the group.

Different strategies often have to be used depending very much upon the product and the market. Prototyping can be expensive and anyone developing a product also needs to look at the intellectual property aspect – what can be protected, what costs are involved? This all needs to be built in to the project and a time-line constructed so that deadlines and costs can be monitored.

A discussion followed on how technology has changed in design. Damien described how they used to work from drawn designs, then 3-D modelling came along, rapid prototyping and how CAD software can now go straight to 3D printers. A process of actually “printing” structures such as concrete is now being talked about. Some of the software and equipment available can actually save the cost of tooling up, particularly for short production runs.

Altogether it was a very useful insight into the practical side of product development.

Ipeology Limited
M1 Studios
8 Lower Ormond Street
M1 5QF