While we cannot speak for the Innovation & Technology Counsellors and Design Counsellors/ Advisers in other Business Links, we in Business Links Devon & Cornwall felt that we had to respond to Trevor Baylis’ letter (DW 19 September).
Business Links is targeted at small- and medium-sized enterprises not at the “micro-businesses” which define most inventors. However, in Devon & Cornwall, we agree with Mr Baylis that many good ideas could be lost if we ignore them because they don’t come from an SME.
As a result, we have developed a filter system which prevents this. This involves questionnaires, interviews and a monthly review meeting. Even to the extent, in some cases, of being put together with an appropriate SME to actually develop the product and so help the SME at the same time. As a guide, at our August meeting we discussed 27 ideas, one of which is being taken further.
Other Business Links in England have their own ways of helping lone inventors locally, but in Devon & Cornwall we feel that a local facility may be more effective and user-friendly than a monolith academy. Particularly bearing in mind the way in which the national network of ITCs and DeCs interact as a matter of course. It may be that any help from Nesta could be used to expand and improve this aspect of support for the lone inventors.
Bob Marshall MCSD
Design adviser for Technical
Business Links Devon & Cornwall