The name abettermousetrap.co.uk dates from 2007 but our story goes back much further. We’re based in West Yorkshire in the UK but work for inventors worldwide.
Who we are: we’re a small, informal network of people whose innovation experience covers a lot of ground. All are happy to contribute knowledge in confidence to help inventors.
What we do: we provide inventors with information, research, opinion and advice specific to their invention idea or project. Our services are based on a full understanding of the challenges that face private inventors and very small companies.
What we don’t do: we don’t charge inventors big chunks of money on a loophole-riddled promise to get their inventions to market. See this and other warnings about invention promoters. Inventors who succeed are nearly always those who manage their own invention projects.
The owner and co-ordinator of abettermousetrap.co.uk is Graham Barker, a writer who strayed unwittingly on to invention territory in 1983 and has never left.
He helped run Calderdale Innovation Centre (1982-88), the first UK innovation resource specifically for inventors. He then formed an independent invention support consultancy with Peter Bissell (now retired), former innovation centre manager. That evolved into abettermousetrap.co.uk and in total has been responsible for evaluating and researching upwards of six thousand invention ideas from all over the world.
Graham Barker has written several editions of A Better Mousetrap: the Business of Invention, a highly regarded manual for first-time innovators that breaks invention down into a logical, step-by-step process. Special editions were commissioned by BP and The Open University.
He has also written guides to invention for organisations including the Design Council, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), and the European Patent Academy.
John has many years’ experience of researching and advising on invention ideas. Though his main areas of expertise are music and performance technologies, he has an extensive understanding of engineering generally. He is a former economics lecturer, an author (Haynes Piano Manual), has played in rock bands, and is an expert player, tuner and repairer of pianos and organs. His hands-on practicality combined with a background in economics enables him to contribute realism about commercial viability and sustainability to any discussion of new product ideas.
An Occupational Therapist for many years, Jill’s expertise is well suited to invention ideas in the field of personal care, independent living and assistive technology. While the market for professional and home products to help elderly, disabled, recovering or vulnerable individuals is growing rapidly, it is for obvious reasons also highly regulated. Jill’s extensive knowledge of best practice, product standards and legal ramifications makes a valuable contribution to assessment and advice in this key innovation area.
Russ is a former Vice-Chair of Manchester Inventors Group and was Innovator in Residence in Manchester Central Library, using his experience to support others. Russ lives and breathes the daily challenges of invention. Like many inventors he had no prior experience and became of necessity a self-taught invention project manager. He has developed products and a brand in the baby nursery sector which have given him valuable first-hand experience of the highs and lows of engaging directly with IP, designers, investors, retailers, buyers and manufacturers in the UK, Europe and China.
Owner since 2001 of Bristol-based product design consultancy Flynn Product Design, Chris works frequently with first-time inventors and has been instrumental in getting several inventions to market that have subsequently won awards. An innovator himself in product design practice, he runs pre-client stage workshops to give inventors and SMEs an immersive introduction to the disciplines involved in turning ideas into manufacturable products. His approach is a breath of fresh air in an industry not always responsive to the needs of inventors.
An experienced environmental project manager, Patrick spends much of his time in Europe and Africa supervising mainly internationally-supported water resource management programmes. He also helps draft legislation to reduce pollution and foster environmental improvement. His interest in invention began when, as a post-doctoral researcher in the 1990s, he patented a number of waste treatment innovations. He believes that continuous practical innovation is a key tool in combatting environmental degradation, and that encouraging invention at all levels is essential to the health of the innovation supply chain.