The coronavirus has affected the world in a way in which most of us have never seen. Years ago, my father told me the story of how he was at high school football practice when it was announced over the PA speaker that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed. For my father, this was a life event that he would never forget. In my life, the first major event etched into my memory and that of the world were the tragic events of September 11th 2001. Twenty years later, and now a leader with one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the world, I am not only experiencing this new life event, but am on the front lines combating it as a first responder.
The information disseminated to me by my agency is not vastly different than what we are all hearing on the news. Some theorize the news organizations have sensationalized the coverage. Others, if not most, believe the threats to our health are very much real. The bottom line is the virus is dangerous and we, the first responders, are taking it incredibly seriously.
As a law enforcement officer and also a senior inventRight coach, I can tell you one thing for certain: The desire to help those in need and to make a difference is strong!
Thankfully, the inventor community has come out in groves to develop life-saving products to combat coronavirus. Typically, as we have seen in countless news stories, this is in the form of makeshift ventilators which the world so desperately needs. In most cases, these ventilators are being made as “one-offs” which can hopefully be delivered to a hospital. Thankfully billionaires such as Elon Musk and automakers in Detroit such as Ford and GM have also started making life-saving ventilators. Dyson, the vacuum and hand-dryer company, has followed suit as well. Cosmetics giant L’Oreal and countless distilleries have shifted production to create hand sanitizer. Prada and Ralph Lauren have dedicated resources to medical coveralls and medical masks respectively. Sports apparel companies such as New Balance, Nike and Under Armour have shifted portions of their production to face shields and masks, as has IKEA and My Pillow.
The goal? To save lives now! It truly is an incredible show of global solidarity.
What all of these companies have in common is they can ramp up production immediately and deliver results at lightning speed. However, for the vast majority of inventors and product developers, my suggestion is that you invent for the next virus. I have received countless messages from product developers who have an idea to prevent the spread of another coronavirus.
Unfortunately, the steps to license your idea are not going to be accelerated amidst this pandemic and may even be slowed down. The warmth coming from the hearts of these inventors is palpable, however their idea isn’t likely be licensed before this current pandemic is over.
Below is a list of reasons why you should start working on your simple life-saving product for the next pandemic:
1. There will be future virus pandemic/epidemics. It’s almost a certainty. SARS, H1N1, Bird Flu, Ebola, Measles, and Zika are just a small list of recent outbreaks which we are all familiar with. It will happen again.
2. The way the world looks at hygiene will forever change moving forward. I believe many of the practices we have become accustomed to over the past month, will in one form or another, become commonplace. Consumers will demand that restaurants, retailers, and other establishments provide sterile and hygienic environments. This is an incredible opportunity for product developers to help industry meet these demands.
3. The potential licensees on the front lines of this pandemic, such as 3M and Honeywell, are concerned about fulfilling orders and distributing their masks and medical equipment worldwide to save lives now! I’m not certain that now is a good time to reach out to companies on the front lines about your new idea. It’s simply not their focus at the moment.
That said, all signs indicate that production and licensing is very much alive in non-medical related fields. For example, read what the President and Chief Operating Officer at toy and game giant Hasbro had to say about open innovation and the coronarvirus. inventRight cofounder Stephen Key also interviewed the President of Lifetime Brands to learn about what’s happening in the housewares industry and the coronavirus.
4. Licensing, in most cases, is a long-term project. Even in the best-case scenario — your product is licensed in only a few months — it’s still likely to take about twelve months until it hits the store shelves. If the coronavirus isn’t controlled within the next twelve months, we are in very big trouble!
5. As I mentioned above, the number of inventors identifying solutions to prevent or combat the new coronavirus is tremendous. This means a core group of companies are, or will be, inundated with product submissions. Within this short time, I’m not certain the proper research or presentation could possibly be done to the extent necessary to receive sustained interest. Really, do your best to bring a real solution and stand out from the rest. This emergency does not mean that market research, cost, feasibility, intellectual property, and manufacturing considerations are no longer going to be expected. No “pass” will be given in the interest of rushing a product to market. Nothing changes.
6. The medical industry is notoriously difficult to license to. It isn’t that they aren’t inventor-friendly, but each product must be validated, tested, and in many cases cleared by governmental agencies before entering the marketplace. Data is very important in this industry and for obvious reasons.
I believe it’s clear that when you take a step back and really look at what is going on, you most likely aren’t going to licensing a product to fight the new coronavirus in the immediate future. It’s simply a timing issue. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t be working like crazy to license a product to combat the next virus however. If history tells us one thing, it’s that this will happen again!
Inventors truly do have a thirst to innovate and help for the good of mankind. My law enforcement agency and countless first responders/medical professionals have received donations of makeshift masks and other implements to help us get through the pandemic safely. If you have designed something that you might be able to make in limited quantities at home, then consider distributing them to those in need now.
We need to help others get through this. Let’s take a page from the GM’s, FORD’s, Under Armour and L’Oreals of the world and make a change now. I don’t suggest sitting on your simple potential life-saving idea. Let’s give where we can.
Over the next several months, follow inventRight’s simple 10-step process. Don’t rush things. Keep this in mind and along with some well-earned karma, next year at this time, perhaps your simple virus protection product will be distributed to the world!