Innovation Future Specialist

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Ted's Guide to Ideas

Teddy bear reading a book Hello, my name is Ted. I am a cuddly character, with a simple attitude to life, and well read. I tell it like it is, in simple plain language. So you will not need your encyclopedia of jargon: "Jar be gone".

Instead of lolling around in the bedroom all day I decided to write a few short guides to business and other stuff.

This is one of my guides ...

I have an idea, what do I do?

Firstly, I would like to congratulate you for using your brain and coming up with an idea. Well done!

There are a few things that you might want to do initially:

» See if the idea is unique

» Keep it secret (at least, initially)

» Determine if it is a good idea


You will probably be surprised how many ideas have already been thought of. So you might want to check to see if your idea has already been thought of, and has anyone implemented that idea. A Google search is one way to do this; and if your idea is a new type of product then a patent search might also be useful. [Note: technically your searches could expose your idea, so you might want to be careful how much you type into those search boxes. It is unlikely to be an issue, I am just a paranoid bear.]

If the idea is a new product and it has already been published then you might not be able to patent it (depending on the details).

If your idea is similar to one already being used then you can still pursue your idea [if you do it better] provided it will not violate any intellectual property rights (e.g. a patent).

Keep it secret

If you want to patent an idea for a new product then you must not publish the details of your idea.

Even if you do not want a patent it is better to keep your idea secret until you are selling it in the market-place. This gives you a head start over potential competitors that might start to copy your idea when they see it.

The innovation training courses cover intellectual property rights.

Good idea?


An intelligent robotic teddy bear that reads to the kids, and does all the house work, for £300 - that is a good idea!

You probably think your idea is a good one, but is it really? Before you waste too much time, effort and money you need to objectively assess whether your idea is viable. You need to determine the following:

» What are the benefits?

» How much would customers actually pay for it?

» Is it technically possible?

» How much would it cost to implement?

To determine the benefits and likely price you need to ask potential customers. This is called market research. You also have to conduct technical research to determine the technical viability and cost. The price you sell at needs to be higher than all the associated costs: you need to make a profit.

Note: Not all ideas are commercial ideas, and so all of the above points might not apply for some ideas. For example, some public services do not need to make a profit.


Assuming you do have a good idea, you have a number of options available:

» Sell your idea to a company that buys ideas [make sure it is trustworthy]

» Design a prototype, get a patent and sell royalties to companies that want to make the new product

» Start a business to pursue the idea (see Start-ups)

» If you are an employee and your business would reward you for the idea then suggest it to them, or

» Be altruistic and give the idea away for free by publishing it on the Internet [e.g. Open Innovation or Creative Commons]

See also:

» Ted's Guide to Start-ups

» Creativity and Innovation Training Courses


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