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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK

Business: The Economy

Inventor's bright academy idea

"The corporate boys move in hard," says Trevor Baylis

An inventor who made his name by pioneering a wind-up radio is launching a new group to champion like-minded boffins.

Trevor Baylis, inventor of the clockwork radio, says he wants others to be spared the problems he faced with big businesses cashing in on his ideas.

Trevor Baylis: "We must protect ourselves."
He is setting up the British Academy of Invention, which will give members a range of help, from preparing business plans to arranging patents.

Mr Baylis says he had to fight off businesses trying to use his 'intellectual property' before his invention was finally manufactured and became a success.

[ image: The clockwork radio was a huge success for Mr Baylis]
The clockwork radio was a huge success for Mr Baylis
"Most of us aren't street-wise and we don't know how to protect ourselves," Mr Baylis says.

He says the UK produces a high proportion of the world's inventors - but the nation has lost £165bn through ideas being exploited abroad. He wants to stem the flow and boost the UK's economy.

In five years, since his battery-less radio hit the marketplace, he has spent £20,000 planning the academy.

He says it is almost a full-time job lobbying MPs and ministers to raise awareness of the expense of taking out a patent, as well as answering letters from frustrated inventors.

Auction option

In return for offering help with patents and marketing, the academy will reap some of the financial rewards.

One option is for British and Commonwealth companies to be given the chance at auction to bid for new inventions. A portfolio, detailing performance, potential market size and ease of manufacture, will be provided.

At present, inventors receive support from the Institute of Patentees and Inventors.

But Paul Ambridge of the institute supports the new academy because, he says, his organisation cannot offer money.

[ image: James Kelly: We can give credibility]
James Kelly: We can give credibility
"Each year about 50,000 people come up with new ideas. Of those only 80 get into the marketplace and of those 80, only about 50 get into the marketplace because they've been taken up by overseas manufacturers, as was Trevor's clockwork radio," he said.

The problem is that industry is not receptive enough to new ideas, said Mr Ambridge.

The new academy will be housed in premises belonging to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in central London.

Director of Marketing James Kelly said: "The institution can certainly help him by offering credibility because we offer high-level representation to government."

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