Without inventors we would not yet have arrived at the Stone-Age. Everything we possess is thanks to someone inventing, discovering, creating it where once it didn’t exist. No-one ever invented anything with the intention of making things worse. All inventions are intended for the benefit of the customers who will buy them, and the population at large.
Economic growth upon which the country depends in order to avoid recession relies on one thing only; innovation. Growth means more. More sales and more exports means more production, which in turn requires finding ways to produce more from the same resources or perhaps from fewer resources. Economies require innovation, new techniques. Where once we harvested two tons from an acre and now we harvest six, is entirely the product of innovation in agriculture. New and better products open new markets, and produce new revenue. We are in a Ponzi scheme, whether we like it or not, and the only people who can sustain it, and keep us afloat, are inventors.
A great invention is a jigsaw puzzle. It only has a few pieces, but they all have to be present or the jigsaw doesn’t get solved:
Piece one: The idea.
Two: Funding to develop it, (prototypes etc).
Three: Expertise in patenting, law, licensing, contracts and in technical areas unfamiliar to the inventor.
Four: Marketing. (Again, expertise).
Five: Business management expertise.
Six: Ongoing finance to support the business until it makes a profit.
That’s about it, just six pieces, but a frustratingly difficult jigsaw to complete.
How likely is it that anyone with a great innovative idea will have all of these things readily to hand? Companies might, but individuals not. But many of the greatest product ideas come from solo inventors working from home. Is it any wonder that many struggle, fail and die without ever realising the potential of their possibly quite brilliant ideas?
This simple jigsaw puzzle is too hard to put together. The fewer pieces the inventor has, the harder it is to get the rest. An idea on it’s own is highly unlikely to gather the other pieces together and succeed. What is needed is a government agency to bring these pieces together, free at the point of access. Any inventor should be able to take an idea in full confidence to be assessed for viability by experts and if considered so, taken by the hand to be guided and introduced to all the other pieces needed, provided by the government agency itself. Pieces three and five would be provided free of charge by the agency as a national investment, rewarded by the tax revenue it produces in the future. And private contributors will provide the others for a slice of the action. They will be queuing up to participate in a potentially profitable project. It isn’t good enough to leave this to sensationalist TV shows like Dragon’s Den, or to the sharks in the sea.
New businesses creating new products for worldwide markets will be born, and everyone will benefit, not least the Treasury in the end. Inventors will be able to become serial inventors, and hopefully no longer go mad trying. Most of the world’s greatest inventions throughout history have been British; we have a deep vein of intellectual and innovative resourcefulness that needs nurturing.
I propose the formation of the UK Innovation Agency.