Mankind has always been an innovative lot. I think we sometimes forget, though, that many of the things prevalent in our world were not conceived in a science lab or research center, but in the minds of creative individuals toiling away in their barns or garages or working at their kitchen tables. Imagine what effect it would have if these ideas had a safe and efficient way to be brought to fruition. The two things that stifle that progress are protection for a person's intellectual property and obtaining the necessary funding to pursue any form of development.
As a means to overcome this, I suggest utilizing the Small Business Development Centers, or equivalent in other states, to establish evaluation panels comprised of representatives from the economic development committees, SBDC, SCORE volunteers, patent attorneys and experienced professionals from industry, along with university instructors and students. These panels would consider all aspects of manufacturing, marketing, etc., relating to the proposed concept. With this information a rational decision could be made as to whether or not the eventual market potential justifies the expense of development.
With the panel's ongoing guidance and approval, funds would be made available to pursue development of a project starting with a comprehensive patent search
Funding should be provided through federal, state and even local economic development programs. Corporate or private donations should be welcomed, but to thwart unwelcome influence over the program or its participants, funds should be pooled before being distributed.
The program would provide the necessary protection throughout and result in a comprehensive business and marketing plan for the project. Manufacturing and marketing rights could then be negotiated or sold outright. Those with the entrepreneurial spirit would find start-up financing easy to obtain.
Implementing a program such as this, new ideas could be explored, developed and expedited to market.