Louis Foreman, the producer of the Emmy Award winning PBS television show Everyday Edisons and the publisher of Inventors Digest, announced in April 2011 that he was launching of a $25 million Innovation Fund. Phase 1 of the search for inventions for the Fund to invest in was completed in mid-June 2011. Phase 2 of the search for inventions and ideas has just begun and will run through Monday, September 12th, 2011.
“The Fund is off to a great start and we have received some very innovative technologies as part of the first wave,” Foreman said. “I am amazed at the creativity and ingenuity. It just reinforces our original premise that everyone has a great idea, but most people don’t follow through. The Fund has become a catalyst to submit these ideas and see if they have commercial viability.” The proceeds of the Fund which will be invested by Edison Nation to bring innovations to market. Inventors who have their inventions or ideas selected will share in any profits with Edison Nation.
Foreman is not only interested in the type of gadget inventions that the Everyday Edisons PBS TV show are known for. The goal of the TV show is to find inventions that have a short enough gestation period that allows for the idea/invention to go from concept through to designed product on the shelves of a store. In fact, the final episode of the season for Everyday Edisons will show the inventor walking into the store where they will see their product on the shelves. Obviously, with such a short timeline there are many good inventions that simply cannot qualify for inclusion in the TV show.
“We’ve been typecast, sadly, because we produce this TV show, it’s like the guy who is always the heartthrob or always the villain, it’s kind of hard to imagine him doing anything else,” Foreman told me when I interviewed him on May 4, 2011. “But the fact is that we’ve got a really talented team engineers and designers on staff that understand these technologies. And so we want to pursue those as well.”
Indeed, the Innovation Fund is looking for medical devices, military and law enforcement technology, social networking innovations and even software. “We’re actually much more competent in those types of products — medical devices, military and law enforcement products — than you would imagine,” Foreman said. “If someone brought me a surgical device at a casting call, as much as I would love it, there would be no way that we’d be able to get that product to market in the nine months that we have to produce the show. So as a result we really can’t take those types of products on for the show. The fund is an opportunity to look beyond the typical consumer products. So we’re working very closely with universities, with researches, with the venture community out there because we want to attract — yes, we want to attract consumer products, but we also want to attract products in energy, in life sciences, in social networking.”
To help what might be the best ideas and inventions percolate to the top Foreman has created what he refers to as a “Patent Attorney Referral Program.” This program is designed to benefit patent attorneys and patent agents whose clients submit innovative ideas and concepts. If a client of a patent attorney or patent agent is selected and accepts the offer of assistance from the Innovation Fund then the patent attorney or patent agent representing that inventor will be retained by the Innovation Fund to provide the legal services required to pursue patent rights.
On average Foreman expects to file between two to five patent applications per invention/idea, with an additional $150,000 to $200,000 being invested to develop the invention, bring the total investment per invention/idea to $250,000 each, which means the Innovation Fund will be able to invest in roughly 100 inventions/ideas.
So what has come of Phase 1 of the Invention Fund search? “We are currently vetting the submissions and doing the necessary diligence to determine which we will proceed with,” Foreman says. “Our expectations are that we will identify 8-10 to begin development work on. These inventors will be notified in September.”