How to Present an Idea or Invention to Industry
By: Alastair Swanwick
Many people who have come up with a great new idea find themselves presenting their idea either to a potential investor to raise capital or to a company in order to get a licensing agreement. It is likely that a lot of time and effort has gone into the idea and organising the meeting but what about the presentation and should you have a prototype?
Meeting with interested parties
The most important thing at the meeting is to inspire confidence in your idea. The idea must be well thought out and thoroughly researched before putting in front of the interested party. If you have seen Dragon’s Den you will know that it can be a cut throat environment and the person you are presenting to probably deals with business everyday and therefore expect a certain standard of presentation. Unfortunately a rough sketch is almost always not enough.
In the ideal world the inventor would approach the meeting with a professionally developed, patented product that has been prototyped and is fully working ready for manufacture. However there are often monetary limitations and therefore some elements often have to be compromised.
Don’t compromise on design
One essential element is to have a professionally designed and developed product rather than a rough sketch. By allowing interested parties to envisage your idea as a real product you stand a much greater chance of gaining backing. Often a product designer will be needed to produce this presentation. They will design out any issues regarding materials and manufacturing methods that might not be obvious to the individual.
If necessary, compromise on prototyping
The prototype is likely to be the most costly part of presentation and is not always essential. The visualisation of the product is often enough to convey the potential benefits and feasibility of the idea to the interested party.
However industry does pay more for an idea that has been prototyped as they can be more certain that it will work cutting the risk of failure further down the process. The prototyping process irons out some issues that may not be obvious from a 2D presentation.
When a prototype is essential
A prototype will be needed if there is any doubt that the idea will work. Cost can be saved by building a less expensive ‘proof of principle’ prototype. There are three main categories of prototype:
1. Proof of principle: A prototype that simply proves that a particularly new system or mechanism works. Often it is just part of the overall idea and it does not need to look like the final product.
2. Aesthetic model: A prototype that looks like the final product but is not fully functional.
3. Pre-production prototype: A pre-production prototype looks, feels and works like the final product. This type of prototype can be produced to mimic how it would actually be manufactured to check that everything will fit together correctly.
Protection for the idea
Finally it is important to have some form of protection on an idea before revealing it to anyone. The best form of protection is a fully granted patent but this takes time and can be expensive especially if drafted by a patent agent. A self filed patent is cheaper to obtain and so is a good compromise.
The idea can be presented with just a patent filing number rather than a fully granted patent, although it would be more valuable if protected with a granted patent.
Professional product development often creates further intellectual property so it is advisable to complete the design work before filing a patent application.
One thing to note is that an interested party will often ask if the idea is original. A worldwide patent search completed by a professional patent researcher will determine the idea’s originality and should be completed before doing any product development or prototyping work.
First check your idea is original by commissioning a worldwide patent search. Then employ a product designer, preferably one who specialises in inventions, to professionally design your idea and create a graphic presentation. Create a prototype of the idea if funds are available and finally organise protection for your idea through a patent.
Help through the process
Obviously the process of taking an idea to market is quite complex. Innovate Design specialise in helping individuals and SMEs take their ideas to market. Their services include:
Global patent searches Advice on self filed patents Help with selecting a suitable patent agent Complete product design service resulting in a professional presentation.
More information is available on their website: www.innovate-design.co.uk
Innovate Design helps individuals patent, develop, prototype and sell their ideas. Innovate Design: Developing Inventions
For more information on prototyping an idea or invention, click here: Invention Prototype
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