May is National Inventors month, or NIM for short. Previously NIM has been held in August but this year, in a drive to increase national awareness, the event is being held earlier in the year.
…at what point do you start looking at a scribble and seeing your finished entity through the page, thinking “this needs to be built”?
I’m always amazed by people who manage to turn great ideas into great products. What starts off as a simple concept can adapt, alter and rearrange to become something more than a few scribbles on a bit of paper. It becomes real. A physical entity with the ability to change our world for the good. Obviously there are inventions which, by their very nature, may be deemed to be destructive to humanity – it’s the other side of the coin which, for this article, I’m going to omit (there’s a conversation to be had about that in the future I think).
A question I’ve asked myself since finding out about NIM – how can you turn innovation into invention? At what point does an innovative, thought-provoking idea make its way from pencil and pad, to drawing board, to blue print, to prototype and to full-scale manufacture? Moreover, at what point do you start looking at a scribble and seeing your finished entity through the page, thinking “this needs to be built”?
I suppose inspiration can be found anywhere; James Dyson found it in the most unlikely place. A vacuum cleaner. He left university and started looking at putting together the ‘ultimate vacuum cleaner’. After thousands of prototypes and countless man hours building, assessing, redesigning and rebuilding, he ended up with a design he believed would truly work. Dyson believed so passionately in what he was doing, he took out £900,000 against his house to start manufacturing for himself.
This isn’t the only story of its kind though. All through history people have had such passion for their ideas that it has led them to the brink and back. Benjamin Franklin carried out the famous ‘kite experiment’, by flying a kite during a thunder storm to prove electricity could be ‘extracted from the cloud’. (Unfortunately in 1753 Georg Wilhem Richmann tried a similar experiment and, for his efforts, was found dead with his shoes blown off, his clothing singed and a blister on his forehead.)
I suppose it really is the case that necessity is the mother of invention. If you feel so absolutely passionate about something, it becomes a necessity to develop, evolve or conceptualise beyond your minds eye.
I’m not so sure if having a National Inventors Month will make everyone want to immediately start designing the first thing they think of, but maybe for those who have an idea burning inside their heads, it may provide them with the connections and information to transform this idea into something we can all benefit from.