Brain drain

The Brits are always dreaming up inventions. The trouble is, it doesn't usually go beyond the dreaming stage.


The Brits are always dreaming up inventions. The trouble is, it doesn’t usually go beyond the dreaming stage.

The Brits are always dreaming up inventions. The trouble is, it doesn’t usually go beyond the dreaming stage.

Around half of 1,000 people surveyed by the British Library recently claim they’ve had an idea for an invention in the last ten years. Extrapolate that across the nation, and that’s a lot of ideas. Dragons’ Den is the tip of the iceberg.

Let’s say 95 per cent of those ideas are rubbish. I’ve done some calculations, admittedly pretty rough ones, but still makes at least 1,500,000 decent ideas every ten years, or 150,000 a year. Only 25,000 patents, trademarks and design rights get filed in the UK every 12 months, which leaves you with a balance of 125,000 exploitable ideas being wasted per year. That really is a brain drain.

People come up with these ideas in all sorts of places, according to the BL survey. At home (24.3 per cent), at work (21.5 per cent), in the shower (13.8 per cent), ‘in their dreams’ (10.9 per cent) or even on the toilet (7 per cent).

So here’s another idea. Get together a team of people with business acumen and buy up some of those wasted ideas, for say, £100 each. You could get people to submit them online, securely, and trawl through them until you found a good one. Perhaps you could even combine them in ways the original inventors would never have thought of.

Because let’s face it, most people are just too lazy or scared to take a punt on their big idea. A hundred quid could represent a decent return for a bit of dreaming in the shower or on the toilet.

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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