21 March 2011

Business Support Update

For many years the first port of call for inventors was their local Business Link. Although Business Link's national website will remain, its regional and local services will begin to disappear from the end of March 2011. Opinion is divided as to whether the abolition of those services will be a good thing but it is a reality and we have to get used to it.

Free advice for inventors will continue to be available from the PATLib libraries such as Leeds Central Library and the British Library Business and IP Centre. Several of those libraries host patent clinics in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and Ideas 21. You can also book a free 30 minute consultation with a patent or trade mark attorney, specialist lawyer, product development consultant, business advisor or other professional by clicking on the NIPC Clinics website or calling us on 0800 862 0055.

We can also put you in touch with an inventors club or help you set up your own in your area. There you can learn from other inventors or meet local professionals. You can also join us for free newsletters and updates. We can help you in practical ways - introducing you to trusted professionals, business angel networks and community finance development institutions or by negotiating discounts for you with IP insurers or product design consultants.

If you are willing to pay for business advice check out our accountants page for information on start-ups and funding offered by the ICAEW and other professional bodies. There are also plenty of good coaching and mentoring schemes some of whcih are offered through your local chamber of commerce.

I have today updated the NIPC Inventors Club website to take account of those developments. If you want us to keep you up to date contact us through our contact form or call us on 0800 862 0055.

05 March 2011

Innovation in Africa - Bola Olabisi

When I visited Sierra Leone in 2007 I was impressed by the resourcefulness and energy of the people. This was a country that had emerged recently from a vicious civil war (the subject of the film "Blood Diamond"). Though ranked close to the bottom in terms of nominal GDP, 12th from the bottom on the Human Development Index and 8th from the bottom on the Human Poverty Index I found the country boiling with inventiveness.

Take their use of mobile phones for example. The capital, Freetown, had frequent power cuts yet everyone was on line - not with computers but with mobile phones. They were used not simply as phones but for the rapid transfer of funds, market intelligence (the boys on the streets of the second city Bo knew the market rate for sterling long before the commercial banks), the electoral register (the committee rooms for one of presidential candidates in the general election were in my hotel), sports news (all the English Premier League clubs have legions of supporters and the scores are followed miles from the nearest TV set), calculators by schoolgirls from the Annie Walsh Memorial School not to mention traders in Big Market for quite complex maths and stores of vast amounts of visual and textual information.

The reason I mention all this is that I recently watched a presentation by Bola Olabisi to TED (Technology, Education and Design) in which she said that if you want something badly enough you will invent it. This presentation is inspiring so please do watch it. Bola Olabisi has founded GWIN (Global Women Inventors & Innovators Network) which has itself launched the British Female Inventor & Innovator Network.

We have all heard of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as the economic powerhouses of the future but many countries in Africa will be important too. Scroll down to the bottom of the nominal GDP page and you will see forecasts for 2050 based on IMF data showing Nigeria's GDP of US$4,640,000 million as not that far behind our own US$5,133,000 million and considerably more than Italy's US$2,950.000. There are other countries in Africa with at least as much potential - South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Ghana to name but 4. In 40 years time these countries will be major markets but also sources of technology for here.