Saturday, 4 May 2019

Helping Wales's Home Grown Inventors

Sir William Grove, Inventor
Author Lock & Whitfield
Wikipedia William Robert Grove

Jane Lambert

On the Inspiration page of its website, M-SParc (the Menai Science Park) notes that "Wales is home to some of the best scientists in the world".  Many such as Lyn Evans who was project leader of the large hadron collider at CERN are employed by organizations in the public or private sectors but there are also many others in all walks of life who simply have good ideas.

One such was Willian Robert Grove whose photo appears above.  He was a prolific inventor whose inventions include the gas voltaic battery which was the forerunner of the fuel cell, a technology upon which the world is likely to rely increasingly if it is to meet its carbon reduction targets. Like me, Grove was a barrister whose practice included patents. There are still plenty of inventors like Grove today and the government seeks to harness their potential in its industrial strategy (see "Harnessing the Potential of the UK's Home Grown Inventors" - The Government's Proposed Industrial Strategy 24 Jan 2017).

Such inventors do not get an easy time for all sorts of reasons.  It is one thing to create a new product or process but quite another to market it.  If an inventor tries to make and market his or her invention he or she has to go into business which is impossible for many.  Entrepreneurship and invention do not always - in my experience, rarely - go together.  If an inventor tries to license the invention to an established business he or she meets not invented here scepticism for he or she is, by definition, an outsider.

So what can private inventors do to lower the odds against success?  One thing that inventors in other parts of the UK have done is to learn from each other.  Inventors in Northwest England have formed Ideas North West which described itself as  "a membership group of Inventors based in the North West of England" with the aim of helping each other exploit their ideas for new products or services in order to gain commercial success.  They have their own invention promotion company called Ideas North North West Limited which appears to have helped several local inventors.

According to the Wessex Round Table of Inventors, there are similar groups in most parts of the United Kingdom though it seems none for Wales as yet.  There is already a lot of support available for inventors in North Wales around M-SParc and the Pontio FabLab as events like Pitch Perfect and last week's World IP Day celebrations show.  Those of us who took part in last week's seminar would like to build up a comprehensive support network like those provided by the British Library in London and Business and IP Centres in other English cities.  There will soon be another science park in Aberystwyth where similar networks could be developed and, of course, there is the Intellectual Property Office in Newport which already hosts regular patent clinics.

if, while such networks are being developed, any inventor needs help with patenting, licensing, enforcement or other legal issues or signposting to other services such as angels, product design engineers, IP tax experts and others, he or she should call me during office hours on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page. 

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