Invention funding may be the tiny detail that brings down all of your inventor dreams. You've got your idea. You've researched the market, studied your patent possibilities, and are ready to move forward. Great. Just one small problem - who's going to pay for all this? Developing an invention requires more than just a great idea and hard work. It requires capital. And as we all know, money doesn't grow on trees. (Now that would be an excellent invention.) Fortunately, there are a number of avenues to pursue for invention funding.
The U.S. Government is one of the best resources for funding your invention. Got a great invention that will help save energy? Check out the grant programs through the United States Department of Energy. If your invention is related to the health field, the National Institute for Health may have some money for you. These and many other grant opportunities are listed at the United States government's grant clearinghouse - www.grants.gov.
Another excellent government resource for inventors is the Small Business Administration (SBA), providing one-stop shopping for information on not only government grants and loans for entrepreneurs, but also helpful tips and guides to launching your own business.
Young inventors may have the disadvantage of inexperience, but they are at no disadvantage when it comes to invention funding. Student programs abound, providing funding for the young inventor whether he or she is in college, high school or even elementary school. The most well-known student program is the Intel Science Talent Search, a nationwide contest for high school seniors with a grand prize of a cool $100,000. Enterprising college students may want to check out the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, which awards annual grants to university students with promising inventions.
If you aren't a student or don't qualify for government assistance for your invention, you still have options. Many private companies and financial institutions offer funding for inventors, though these can sometimes be a bit risky and should be approached with caution.
The biggest factor with private grants and loans is the tradeoff. Most companies aren't going to hand out money without expecting something in return. This can mean a stake in the patent or the company that owns it. They will clearly expect a return on their investment should your invention make it big. It's important, then, to fully understand the terms of any private funding you receive as you develop your invention.
If you're positive that your invention is going to be a success, you may want to consider private loans. This is different from a loan facilitated by the Small Business Administration because it is not necessarily guaranteed by the government and therefore will usually have a higher interest rate. This is the riskiest of the funding options but may be the only one for some inventors. Again, be very careful about understanding the terms of the loan, because regardless of how well your invention does, you are still responsible to the financial institution that lent you the money.
If other people think that your invention is as good as you do, there should be no shortage of folks who want a part of the action. These people are investors - sometimes known as "angels" by those they bestow their heavenly capital upon - and are often willing to provide investment capital to inventors in exchange for a stake in the rewards.
Investors can be anybody from friends interested in your invention to venture capital firms, but bear in mind that investors aren't going to throw money at you just because you're enthusiastic. Investors and venture capitalists want to see a business plan, and they often don't even get involved in the process until you've already started production on your invention or have a patent pending. Get more details about invention production in the manufacture your invention section.
When many people think of becoming an inventor, they imagine going about it as an entrepreneur. Coming up with an idea, developing and patenting your invention, and selling it through your own company may seem ideal. Yet becoming an entrepreneur is also a tremendous challenge - perhaps more challenging than inventing the product itself.
Not surprisingly, the biggest hurdle to becoming an entrepreneur is funding, and many of the resources on this page apply to entrepreneurs. One helpful resource in particular is the United States government's Small Business Administration, which provides plenty of information about starting out as an entrepreneur.
With invention funding acquired, you're well on your way to successful invention. Now continue reading on the next page where you'll learn about avoiding invention scams.
Developing an invention requires more than just a great idea and hard work. It requires capital.