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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Top inventor shares his tips
Trevor Bayliss
Bayliss has received no royalties for his invention
Trevor Bayliss is one of the most famous inventors of recent times, for having come up with the clockwork radio to help the spread of information about Aids in Africa.

But Africans themselves have struggled in recent times in the field of innovation. To help inspire creativity, Mr Bayliss shared some of his tips for great inventions with BBC World Service's Africa Live! programme.

Rule 1 - Let the idea come to you

You don't get up in the morning and say you're going to invent something - put that out your mind.

What tends to happen is pure accident or circumstance usually makes it happen.

In my case, I was sitting at home watching television, and ended up watching a programme about the spread of HIV/Aids in Africa.

I observed long enough to see how bad the situation was. They said the only way they could possibly stop this was by the way of education or information.

Rule 2 - Think like a child

When I was a child my father used to have a gramophone.

Gramophone, BBC
Bayliss was inspired by an old gramophone - what will inspire you?
You used to wind this thing up, and as it slowly unwound it dragged a rusty nail round a piece of old bakelite and you got this incredible sound.

I thought "Hang on, if you can get all that noise by dragging a rusty nail round a piece of bakelite using a spring, perhaps that spring could be used to drive a small dynamo - which in turn would drive a radio".

That dream became a solution.

Rule 3 - Don't give up before you've started

I didn't know that solution would work until I started playing round with my bits and pieces.

All inventions... can be credited to Africa, and have you forgotten what started it all - Egypt
Peter Kay, US

But within half an hour of that programme, I'd taken a little DC motor - which I knew, when run in reverse, becomes a dynamo - I connected two wires to a transistor radio and I heard that first crackle of sound.

Who would have thought that silly technology would suddenly brighten up the third world?

Rule 4 - Get - and protect - your patent

The most important thing is to remember that nobody pays you for a good idea, but they might pay you for a piece of paper which says you own that idea.

But don't show it around to too many people, and make sure you've got some form of confidentiality agreement when you do discuss it with someone.

You usually find that you need somebody to invest in your idea if you haven't got the money yourself, because as the patent system takes you along, so it becomes more and more expensive.

That's the time when you really need the dosh.

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