Britain's not got invention talent

If you thought Britain had talent, which you probably didn’t, you may be shocked to hear that we’re actually not that creative.

In a survey of 1000 people working in the creative industry, conducted by the British Library and invention development specialists Innovate Product Design, 52 percent admitted that they had never had an idea for an invention. 78 percent of respondents stated they believe the UK to be an innovative country.

Of those of who responded to say they had come up with a potential invention, 67 percent reported not developing it beyond that initial idea. In total fewer than 10 percent of those who actually had an idea for an invention successfully developed it into a product. 

Blighty’s not always been at the bottom of the inventing class. After all, Brits invented the steam train, the television, the jet engine and even the web. However, it seems we’ve got a bit lazy – according to the British Library, since 2000 Britain has dropped out of the top 10 to 18th place internationally in terms of world patent applications filed per million.  
 
Of those who have had an idea, men are leading the way with 55 percent claiming to have had an idea for an invention at some point in the last 10 years. That’s compared to just 41 percent of female respondents, yet there was little difference when it came to developing their idea.

But a shortage of finance and/or a lack of technical knowledge or ability held them back from actually going for it.

Brits have these ideas at home the most at 24.3 percent, followed by at work with 21.5 percent, in the Shower – 13.8 percent, in bed at 13.7 percent and 10.9 percent of us cook up an idea their dreams. Seven percent have a runny idea on the bog.

When asked how they would improve the situation for the future, 32 percent of respondents said the best way would be to improve access to business advice services. 30.7 percent think making additional funding available through government grants for inventors is a good idea.

Most think education is the key to building a nation of inventors, with 43.6 percent saying we need to bridge the skill gap preventing the effective development of ideas.
 
The British Library’s Patent Expert and Curator of “Inventing the 21st Century”, Steve van Dulken, said: “Britain has a proud tradition of invention, yet since the year 2000 we have slipped to 18th internationally in terms of world patent applications filed per million. For example, in the early 1990s Britain was filing almost twice as many applications as France, yet by 2004 they had overtaken us and now file almost a third more than us.
 
“Offering huge potential in terms of driving economic growth, it is important for Britain to reach its innovative potential and encourage those with ideas to explore them and turn that spark of inspiration into a reality.”
 
Launching today, the British Library’s “Inventing the 21st Century” exhibition will showcase 15 of the most ingenious inventions to come out of the UK in the last decade. Like, er, a water bowl for dogs which encourages them to drink and drive. Official spiel:

   Road Refresher® Dog Bowl – A specially designed water bowl for dogs, the Road Refresher® enables dogs to drink as you drive and prevent the motion of the car spilling water everywhere. Despite failing to secure funding from Dragons’ Den, inventor Natalie Ellis has gone on to crack the US market with her product – even the Whitehouse now has one!