Thursday, 30 July 2009

Leeds Inventors Group 15-7-09 Tim Moor

“From Product Inception to Marketplace”
Tim Moor - Leeds Inventors Group 15-7-09

Tim gave the group a quick rundown of his own background through his time at Northumbria University’s School of Design, through his stint at the ministry of Defence’s DERA section (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) to his own businesses.

In 2006 he set up G & T Design specifically to develop new products. It’s a consultancy which helps inventors along the way from product inception to market. As Tim said, fitting an inventor into the right network so that they can make the right contacts is vital.

He went into detail on a number of different products of his own which he has worked on over the years. He described one device which is a gas analyser. It works by analysing the make-up of a patient’s breath when they blow into it. From this an early diagnosis of such conditions as diabetes and asthma can be made.

He is currently promoting a flat-pack baby bottle. It folds down to a sixth of the size of a conventional bottle, making it very easy to carry around. The bottle is not rigid and as the milk (or other liquids) are drunk from the bottle it collapses slowly. It can be disposed of after use so there is no need to re-sterilise it. The product has granted patents covering it in several countries.

It has taken six years to get the product to market, having to overcome several hurdles. Obviously as a baby product is has to adhere to certain standards and must have the CE mark. It was also rejected by several companies before a company called “Vital Baby” took it on. It is now on sale in Boots.

However, as Tim pointed out, while this is a great achievement it is still just another step along the way. There is a long way to go before the product breaks even. Royalties take a long time to build up and the debts which build up during development have to be paid off.

Tim then used the example of his new product “Bedrock Gin” to show how a product develops. He had already made an impressive entrance to the meeting holding a bottle of gin in each hand.

The idea originated from a conversation in a pub. They had thought of developing a new whisky but then from their market research realised that the gin market was growing the most so decided on that. They found a distiller – the oldest distillery in the country - and gained their interest. They then had to decide on what flavours they wanted the drink to have, what ingredients and processes would be involved and of course what could be protected. Patents have been filed but are still going through the early stages of the application process.

They had wanted to use the name “Osprey” for the drink but this was already owned by Whyte & Mackay. On contacting them Whyte & Mackay became very interested and helped them to get things going.

Bedrock Gin has got to market much faster than the baby bottle did, and won awards along the way. Part of this, as Tim explained was down to inexperience when he first started off with the bottle, and a significant part was also down to getting the right contacts.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

European Inventor Award 2010

European Patent Office is advertising its "European Inventor Award". Anyone can submit a proposal, deadline 12th September 2009.

Details here:



Entry forms and selection criteria can be found online at:



the four categories of the European Inventor Award:


-Industry

-SMEs/research

-Non-European countries

-Lifetime achievement


Dates and deadline:

Closing date for entries 12th September 2009

Announcement of nominees February 2010

Award Ceremony in Madrid April 2010


Monday, 13 July 2009

meet the inventor Tim Moor at the Leeds Inventors Group:

The end of baby bottles as we know them? meet the inventor Tim Moor at the Leeds Inventors Group: http://twitdoc.com/c/rn4tk9

G & T design, press release



A great opportunity to mix with other inventors and get advice from people involved in the business of protecting and exploiting new ideas and products. An invited speaker attends each monthly meeting. Open to all. Free admission.


Next meeting: Sept 2009

Where: Leeds Central Library, third floor meeting room.

Speaker: TBA


Central Library
Calverley Street,
Leeds,
LS1 3AB

Ring (0113) 2478266 to book your place

For further information tel 0113 2478266 or email piu@leeds.gov.uk

Leeds Inventors Group-bits & pieces

A few things which may be of interest:-

Firstly, the European Patent Office is advertising its "European Inventor Award". Anyone can submit a proposal, deadline 12th September 2009. Details here:-

http://www.epo.org/topics/innovation-and-economy/european-inventor.html

Secondly, a couple of newspaper articles on Tim Moor, who is the speaker at this week's meeting of the inventors group:-

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?The_end_of_baby_bottles_as_we_know_them?&in_article_id=700499&in_page_id=34

http://www.thepress.co.uk/search/1728480.Brother_of_invention/

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Leeds Inventors Group 17 – 6 – 09 Mark Coulman

Leeds Inventors Group 17 – 6 – 09 Mark Coulman, Rapid Growth Advisor, Business Link. “Product Feasibility & How to Measure it: How to determine whether your product has a market”Mark explained that he’s part of Business Link’s Business Development team which looks at new products and services – working with individuals and established businesses. He himself has worked in industry in a number of areas and runs his own business.

Mark set out a specific process which he believes anyone should go through when trying to determine the feasibility of a new product:-

The first thing you have, of course, is the idea. Mark suggested that there are three types of idea: Someone else’s idea – ie something which has been done before; a Personal idea which solves a problem you’ve got and is based on what you know; a New idea – a genuinely new idea is very rare. Most ideas are improvements or variations on what has gone before. You must define what this is.

The next step and the most critical, is market research. The inventor needs to ask what problem is being solved? It may be a small problem but it could, nevertheless be a significant one. At the same time, if nobody but the inventor sees it as a problem then nobody will be interested in the solution. Who might use the product? If the answer is “everybody” (which is what an inventor will often say) then in Mark’s view, you are deluded!

You need to target a potential market. Why might anyone use your product? Different people might buy a product for different reasons – expectations might be different, and the price they’re willing to pay might be different.

What is the competition and why would your product be seen to be better? This is particularly important if you’re competing with a product which has a well-established market. What would customers be willing to pay for it? Is it a budget product, or top of the range? These are all questions which need to be answered. Some general information may be found in existing reports such as market research held by Business and Patent Information Services, some may be found through your own specific questionnaires. You may then need to go on to more detailed investigation but you need to know what your market is.

You then need to think about Intellectual Property. Is the product new? Can it be protected? Information on patentability and searching can be found on the Business & Patent Information Services website. Protecting your product takes time and money and isn’t always the most effective way of proceeding. It is particularly useful if you are intending to licence the product. However if the market is short-lived or small the best procedure might just be to get the product on to the market as quickly as possible. Once again, your market research may indicate whether IP is worthwhile.

It is important not to forget about technical issues. This is something which many inventors assume someone else will sort out for them. Knowing how the product works, the materials required and some understanding of the production process will help you to determine the cost and therefore the feasibility. If you don’t know the production cost you won’t be able to determine the retail cost.

This leads into operational issues. What is required in order to produce the product? Whether you intend to do it yourself or involve others thought will have to be put towards whether it will be produced here or abroad. If you are doing it yourself you will need to think about equipment, premises and staff.

Delivery issues will follow. To a large extent this will be determined by whether you’re going to be doing it yourself, whether you’re doing it through an agent or a partner. How will you get it to the market, and how will you promote it? Just as importantly, will you be able to deliver if sales grow significantly – can you satisfy demand? It may seem an obvious statement, but it is vital to be certain that the product does actually work – before it gets to the market.

In order to measure the feasibility of a product you need to be confident that you have made a commercial case for it. Having been through the process outlined above the financial information you need should fall into place. You need to be clear about what will make it commercially viable. If the cost of production and marketing means that you need to sell a million units in your first year you are taking a big risk.

Feasibility is all about turning an idea into a workable plan, or giving you warning that perhaps the idea is not as good as you had originally thought.