Manchester Inventors meets in City Library at 151 Deansgate on the first Tuesday of every month. It is quite a lively club. It attracts some good speakers as can be seen from the calendar and several members have brought their inventions to market,
Tuesday was the club's AGM and I went along to see how everyone was getting on. There were a lot of new faces. Several members of the audience said they were there for the first time which is, of course, a good thing. Sadly, however, many old faces were missing - particularly Chris Brown who had been the patent librarian at Manchester and had set up the club and clinic.
When I arrived an inquisition seemed to be in progress. Ever member of the audience was asked by the master of ceremonies for his or her name, why he or she had come to the meeting, whether he or she had an invention, what stage it had reached and if it was not in production what, if anything, was going wrong. The answers were typed into a spreadsheet which was projected onto a screen for everyone to see. The answers were what one might expect: "I don't know whether my invention will work"; "I don't have any funding;" and "I've got plenty of good ideas but am not so good at business" were common replies. Here are some organizations around Manchester that might help them.
"I don't know whether my invention will work."
You can try to make a prototype. Manchester is lucky enough to host the first fablab in the United Kingdom. A fablab is a combination of a laboratory, workshop and class room fitted out with the latest computer controlled equipment such as three dimensional printers and laser cutters. FabLabs provide design consultancy for a modest fee but, more importantly, they will train you in the computer and design skills that you need to make your own prototype. The Manchester FabLab is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays. You will find it in the CHIPS Building in New Islington just to the east of Manchester city centre, I am very enthusiastic about FabLabs and have written about them quite extensively. You will find links to all my articles at "Liverpool Inventors Club Relaunched" of 28 Feb 2012.
"I don't have any funding"
The first question you should ask yourself is "Why do I need funding at this stage?" It is perfectly possible to launch and develop a business with very little. One of the most widely read business books is "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries. The book has given rise to lean start-up groups around the world and there is a thriving one known as Leanmanc. The group meets at least once a month on-line and at various venues in Manchester. There will be a big meeting at the Studio in Lever Street on 23 Oct 2012 at 19:00 when the group will be addressed by Eric Ries himself. This is a ticket only event but there is a waiting list. I would love to have attended the meeting and did have a ticket but as I will be in an aeroplane on the way back from Geneva at that time I have had to let someone else take my place.
If you do need funding you should read the "Introduction to Funding" page and follow the links on the NIPC Inventors Club website. If you need working capital the community development funding institutions are a good alternative to banks. You will find a list of those serving the North West here. A particularly good one is Business Finance Solutions of 90 Great Bridgewater Street. Its business development manager, David Martin, spoke to the Manchester Inventors Group on 2 Nov 2010 (see my post announcing that event in my Inventors Club blog of 31 Oct 2010),
"I've got plenty of good ideas but am not so good at business"
If you want to improve your business schools. PRIME (The Prince of Wales's Initiative for Mature Enterprise) is holding a series of lectures on preparing to run your own business on 16 Oct, 13 Nov and 11 Dec 2012 at the Job Centre Plus at 24 Mount Street. According to Prime's website this is an intensive course lasting starting at 10:00 and continuing until 16:30 on each day and delegates are expected to attend all three training days. The course will teach you how to conduct market research, write a business and marketing plan and pitch for finance. In short, everything that you need to get to market.
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