Tuesday 25 August 2020

An Inventors' Club for Northwest Wales?

Jane Lambert

"Ffiws" means, and is pronounced as, "Fuse" in English.  It is the name of a maker space with 3D printers, laser cutters and other digitally controlled equipment.  It is a partnership between Menter Môn, Gwynedd Council and several other agencies in North Wales.  Earlier this year I was invited to give a talk at its premises in Porthmadog.  Sadly, the visit had to be cancelled because of the pandemic but I still delivered the talk over Zoom and my slides can be downloaded from Slideshare if anyone is interested.

I think Ffiws is a great resource and the reason I mention it again now is that it has a base at the Menai Science Park (M-SParc).  According to the Ffiws page on the M-SParc website, its facilities are available to the park's tenants and members of the Enterprise hub.  Its equipment will also be taken on tour with M-SParc for demonstrations to, and possible use by, residents of the places M-SParc visits.  There is similar equipment at the Bangor FabLab in the Pontio Centre though that building is temporarily closed for public health reasons.

On 8 Sept 2020, the business and professional networks that have developed around M-SParc will be celebrated in the Ecosystem 2.0 Webinar. Each member of those networks has been allocated 3 minutes to talk about their work or interests.  I shall use mine to propose an inventors' club for North Wales to make use of Ffiws and FabLab and draw on the expertise of the Ecosystem.

The Business and IP Centre explained the need for an inventors' club in an article strap lined "Great ideas can change the world":
"whilst lots of us often spot the potential for a new product or piece of technology, the harsh realities of research and development, prototyping, manufacturing and distribution often mean that few of those ideas actually make it to market."
Those words apply at least as much to inventors, designers, makers and entrepreneurs in Northwest Wales as they do to London.   This is the British Library's solution:
"The Inventors’ Club has been established by the Business & IP Centre to give budding inventors the opportunity to network with others in the same boat, hear from speakers who have successfully commercialised their inventions, stay motivated and share insider hints, tips, expertise and experience. You’ll get feedback on your inventions in a safe, non-judgmental environment and also find out about how the Library’s extensive collection of business and commercial data can help you on your journey from someone with a great idea, to having a product on the market."
I set up and chaired inventors' clubs in Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield and supported the ones in Blackburn and Manchester.   I can say from experience that they work.  In each of those cities, the clubs helped entrepreneurs and inventors to set up new businesses or license the manufacture and sale of their products to other companies. 

The Wessex Region of Technologists and Inventors in Southampton has published a useful article on Starting an Inventors Club on its website.  A Northwest Wales inventors' club is not something that can be run from outside.   Local people must want it enough to set it up and manage it.  If anybody in Northwest Wales is willing to take the initiative I shall place my expertise, experience and connections at his or her disposal.  Anybody wishing to discuss this proposal may call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

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