Right: Gromit tries to measure the extent of innovation in the UK (from captain toy).
The UK Office have also announced in a press release figures that show 30 per cent of all UK patent applications are now coming from individual inventors. In total, more than 1800 individuals applied for a patent in the first three months of 2007, a higher rate than for previous years. Malcolm Wicks, the government minister for science and innovation is quoted as saying:
“Britain remains a nation of inventors, taking their ingenuity from the garden shed to commercial success. Entrepreneurs and the passion of those who appear on shows like Dragon's Den can really inspire innovation".
Cracking Ideas fits in with the National Curriculum and is aimed at 9 to 11 year olds. The aim of the lesson, activities and competition, which every primary school in the country will have a chance to enter, is to encourage children to be innovative and show them how they can profit from, and protect their ideas.
The IPKat thinks that the project sounds excellent (although he is not so keen on the dog), and should be taken up wherever possible. At the risk of sounding cliched, the children of today are going to be the inventors and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. The earlier we can make them aware of how their ideas can be worth something, and sometimes worth protecting, the better it has to be in the long run for everybody.
On another more sceptical note, the figures might not be telling the whole story. The UK is still a long way behind the patenting record of many other developed countries. Encouraging more lone inventors to apply, and reducing the costs for them to do so is all very good, but much more work, investment, education and encouragement is needed to get more ideas properly off the ground.