Creative exploits

By Paul Marks THE man who invented the clockwork radio is backing a new organisation designed to save British inventors from predatory corporations and their own lack of business know-how. The British Academy of Invention, as Trevor Baylis has dubbed it, will aim to help inventors with all aspects of the commercialisation of their ideas, including patenting, business planning, prototyping, product design and marketing. One of the aims is to staunch the flow of British innovations to offshore companies: Baylis could not find a local backer for his radio and feels that better advice would have helped him commercialise the device in Britain. Backing Baylis’s plan is the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which last week voted to offer the academy free office space at its London headquarters. “Trevor is aiming to protect inventors working in a shed at the bottom of the garden,” says John Ling, head of the manufacturing branch of the institution. “At the moment, the only avenue for those inventors is the Patent Office and from there they’re open to the sharks who want to make a fast buck out of them.” The new academy will have a properly elected board that will not be open to those with vested interests, Ling adds. He cites the example of the late Christopher Cockerell, the inventor of the hovercraft, who sold his patent rights cheaply to the government and recently died in near poverty. “He died a very poor man and that’s absolutely disgraceful,” says Ling. While Baylis is trying to raise about £100 000 to kickstart the academy, it is hoped it will become self-financing through inventors granting the academy a part of their profits. “We’ll help you on the understanding that we can share in your success,” Baylis says. He would also like schools to include invention in the curriculum: “If you can teach art,
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