I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kedma Ough, executive director of MIPO, or the Micro Inventor’s Program of Oregon. MIPO and I share the same goal– to help inventors bring their products to market. The non-profit business center has pledged to provide independent inventors with the education and resources needed to be successful. I found Ough’s work in informing inventors about all of the money, such as in the form of grants, available to help them especially interesting. As Ough put it, she’s “leveling the playing field” – and enjoying doing so.
“Our goal is to bring twenty products to the marketplace from Oregon,” explained Ough. MIPO will help any and all inventors with questions (for a membership fee of a little less than two hundred dollars a year), but they do evaluate the feasibility of the ideas they are approached with as well.
“We try to have frank conversations with the inventors that approach us. Who have they been talking to? Do they have a prototype? How many years have they been working on this idea? Some inventors have been dreaming about the same idea for years! It shocks me. If the inventor has a number of ideas they’d like to pursue, we try to identify the idea with the most viable opportunities to move forward,” said Ough.
MIPO also prides itself on helping inventor’s avoid making mistakes, Ough informed me.
“We probably save our clients more money that way than any other. Part of how we do this is by vetting out good advisors and poor ones – inventors are so often scammed by companies and individuals who don’t have their best interests in mind.”
MIPO has created a large network of resources for inventors, including an on-site library and web database. But what I found most remarkable about their work is their attempt to change the face of the “typical inventor”.
“I consider myself an economic development expert. I make it a point to try and find the gaps in the development of different fields. I’ve discovered that the inventing industry is dominated by a single profile. The average independent inventor is male, Caucasian, 54 years of age, and has a professional degree. Where are the women? Where are the minorities? How do we get more diversity into the inventing landscape? Because certainly those groups are buying products too,” explained Ough.
And that’s why MIPO is interested in social entrepreneurship in inventing as well – bringing products to market that really matter, that make lives better and easier.
“We want to see products on the market from many different cultures and from many different perspectives – not just a single one.” Ough has received a grant to try to make this goal a reality.
And she wants you to know there may be money available for your idea, too. Over 2.8 billion dollars a year are appropriated to small business development, she informed me. Do you think your idea might be of interest to the government? If so, I urge you to check out http://www.sbir.gov.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
and the skills needed to succeed. You can listen to the weekly radio
show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media
outlets find you for news stories.