The Inventors: B.C. stays on cutting edge thanks to these dreamer entrepreneurs

Paul Luke and Glen Schaefer | The Province

People who invent things risk being infected with one of the most stubborn diseases known to the modern world, says innovation expert Marc Smith.

It’s called inventoritis. Smith sees it time and time again in his work as a consultant to inventors and vice-president of the B.C. Inventors Society.

“Inventoritis is where people blindly stumble into an invention and spend their life savings on their passion for it, but don’t know what they’re doing,” says Smith, who also runs North Vancouver-based Ubique Mechanical Design.

There is no vaccine. But Smith says successful inventors — the folks who commercialize their inventions into products or services that consistently make money — have found a way to acquire an immunity.

They give up the idea of being pure inventors. They become collaborative entrepreneurs who understand that an invention is only as good as the business team they build around it, Smith says.

“Patent lawyers tell me that they see inventions that seem like winners go nowhere,” Smith says. “Other people become successful. The difference is that successful inventors have business and marketing acumen.”

Even the coolest-sounding inventions can’t be transformed into life-changing innovations unless the inventor identifies a market need, says Dean Prelazzi, managing director of the B.C. Acceleration Network, an organization that supports entrepreneurs, innovators and startups in the province.

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