Help at Hand for Innovators; Media Wales SUPPORT: Network Ensures That Inventors No Longer Have to Work in Isolation

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Byline: ROBERT LLEWELLYN JONES

THE launch of the Wales Innovators Network (WIN) last month confirmed the importance of innovation as a key driver of a modern Welsh economy.

Independent innovators in Wales need no longer feel isolated since the network offers a range of professional and practical advice and support as well as commercial connections through introductions to partner organisations and business support services.

"The companies that succeed in the global economy will be those that have the imagination, talent and resolve to develop and exploit new ideas before their commercial rivals get in on the act, " said project manager Tony Guile who has been seconded to the Welsh Development Agency from the Patent Office.

"This launch has marked the start of a campaign across Wales to attract inventors of all ages, from every strata of society - young and old, male and female."

Recognising that the existing business support structure caters largely for the needs of companies, the new network will provide a dedicated resource for the individual innovator. It is a unique scheme which aims to bring together individual innovators, to recognise their ideas and offer professional support to commercialise those ideas. The scheme ensures that the individual innovator no longer needs to go it alone; professional help is now available.

"To achieve this the scheme will be run through four regional innovators' clubs, " Mr Guile explained. "The network's objectives are to provide innovators with access to the best professional help, to secure the resources to exploit their ideas while retaining ownership of their inventions."

Help offered includes one-toone advice and support covering the following areas: intellectual property rights, idea development, design, testing, market research, marketing, prototyping, funding, licensing and finding suitable partners to help exploit ideas.

Mr Guile said, "The aim is to capture those ideas that at present do not get exploited. It's all a matter of credibility and being taken seriously.We can provide that credibility."

Meetings include relevant talks from loan innovators/inventors, professional advisers and commercial partners.

Members also have access to one-to-one confidential support and advice from the WDA Innovators Network and Innovation and Technology counsellors.

When the ideas are fully evaluated they are brought before a panel made up of entrepreneurs, manufacturers and academics who can then identify their potential and recommend the next step in their development.

Each club is provided with two laptop computers with internet connection. These are available for members to use at the club meetings and during normal office hours at local Business Connect IT Centres.

While involvement in the network is free, the process of developing an idea for commercial exploitation can involve considerable cost. …