London's inventor in residence
The Science Museum has one, shouldn't everyone?
Former Inventor of the Year Mark Champkins has been appointed as the Science Museum’s first Inventor in Residence and this is an idea that is taking off in organisations across the country as a way to find new solutions and new ideas. Shouldn’t all organisations have one?
Since May 2011, Mark Champkins has produced a number of prototype products for the Museum. These include a magnetic chopping board that aids chopping (by holding the end of the knife down), holds down mixing bowls, and can be used as knife rack after use.
Some products he has considered are less “invention” and more “commercial design”, like the “inspired notepad”, which mixes black pages with the musings of famous scientists and inventors, or the iGramo - “inspired by the museum collection, the gramophone could be a £5-10 product to amplify i-phones”. These are for the gift shop rather than world-changing.
His own experience as an inventor has also been slightly overwhelming, including a range of products for his “Concentrate” company. These include
But having a specific role to focus on innovation is a good idea - and one that’s taken off.
It borrows from the ideas of Edward De Bono and his six thinking hats. This is based on the principle that if an individual is given a specific role in a dialogue or meeting, they will structure their thinking to come up with new and valuable ideas.
And this approach has a growing momentum. Last year, Mike Parsons was appointed Innovator in Residence at the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (IEED).
Some companies, like design agency IDEO, use the approach and have their own fellows.
In London the Design Council, who promote the use of design, have had a system of “Design Associates” for a while now. These are placed in companies or public sector organisations to help them come up with new solutions to old problems.
Finally, there are a number of examples of artists being able to play this role - that of creative provocateur - in organisations. Arts and Business have run a similar programme in the past.
So if it’s good enough for the science museum, IDEO and the public and private sectors, perhaps everyone should have one?