So, you’re an innovator. A creator, an inventor, and an entrepreneur. You’ve got your idea for a product or a way of doing something differently that’s going to change a life, an industry, or the world! What now?!
How do you take this idea and turn it into something that can be commercialized?
First things first. Getting a provisional patent for your idea is the very first step. Once that’s obtained the creator has the ability to display “Patent Pending” on the product and they now have an established priority date of the invention. Now that the invention is protected, the real work begins.
“Here in Northwest Indiana we have two fabulous resources,” said Domenica Hartman from Hartman Global Intellectual Property Law. “One is the Purdue University Northwest - Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center in Hammond.”
“Their whole mission is to help entrepreneurs with their inventions in the mechanical and electrical realm, which is very broad,” Hartman pointed out. “They work with individuals, entrepreneurs, and small companies to help them get their idea to the point where it can be manufactured on a large scale.”
The 18,000 square foot location, among other resources, houses project training facilities which enable faculty, students, and community clients to design, develop, and test prototypes.
“It’s an excellent vehicle to get from Point A to Point B where you can now present Point B to manufacturers and say, ‘We’re ready to go!’” Hartman said. “Purdue University is wholeheartedly behind helping individuals and entrepreneurs get their ideas out there. It’s just an excellent resource.”
Another resource that innovators in Northwest Indiana can take advantage of is the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC), whose mission is to connect entrepreneurs and small business owners with the wide array of resources that are available to them throughout the state that help them to grow and promote their idea into a product.
“The ISBDC is an awesome resource that is paid for by tax dollars and there are locations around the state,” noted Hartman. “The nearest one is in Crown Point and they work hand in hand with agencies across the region.”
“Northwest Indiana is just an incredibly pro-entrepreneur and innovation compared to so many other areas. Their mission is to assist, again, small businesses and individuals to get their ideas out into the marketplace, and to ultimately generate tax dollars back into Indiana which is why it’s paid for through tax dollars.”
The ISBDC helps innovators make contacts which assist in getting their ideas to market. They help to clarify and crystallize, in the entrepreneur's mind, what the steps are that need to be taken in order to be successful. They provided services including one-on-one consulting, strategic planning, market research, loan assistance and more.
“From the very outset, the ISBDC helps by asking questions like, ‘What’s your mission statement? What is it that you’re hoping to do? Where do we get financing, who are the players in this industry and who do we need to contact?’” Hartman said. “We’ve sent inventors there for over 20 years and we’ve always gotten positive feedback.”
“We (Hartman Global) can help you take those initial steps towards protection but it’s going to be wasted money if that entrepreneur doesn’t take those next steps. Entrepreneurs are so busy getting their product made or keeping their business running and that’s why both agencies, Purdue Northwest’s Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center and the ISBDC, are such tremendous resources that can get you past Point A.”