Guest blog: Britain needs to brush up on its inventing skills

A real inspiration, young Sam's story has really captured the public imagination - yet if Britain is going to regain its reputation as a leading force technologically then we need to encourage more children to get excited about inventing, and provide more emphasis on engineering and invention in our schools.

Britain has a proud tradition of inventing things: the steam engine, the television and the jet engine to name but a few.  But in the last 10 years Britain has slipped from ninth in the world to 18th in terms of number of new patent applications being filed, suggesting a worrying decline in our country's creativity.

Assessing the situation, a British Library and Innovate Product Design survey has uncovered that 52% of the UK population have never had an idea for an invention, and perhaps even more worrying, 67% of those who recorded having had an idea stated they had done nothing to take it any further.

Encouragingly, those surveyed did not state a lack of motivation or unwillingness to take the risk involved as primary reasons behind their decision not to develop their ideas.  Overwhelmingly the reasons were either due to a shortage of finance (40.8%) and/or a lack of technical knowledge or ability (40.5%).

With economic growth dependent on the nation's ability to innovate and diversify, Britain's inventors have a key role to play in developing the new products and services that will drive recovery.

This is the first blog in a series the British Library is writing for Smarta on the stories behind some of the UK's best inventions as featured in its 'Inventing the 21st Century' exhibition, which covers creations as diverse as renewable energy devices and Samuel's inspirational broom.

Visit the exhibition and find out more about how the British Library's critically acclaimed Business & IP Centre can help you turn your idea into a reality.

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