The best thing since sliced bread: inventing for the future

How many inventions are there left in the world to create? Not just an automation that makes squeezing limes or washing carpets a little bit easier — but a truly ground breaking invention? Perhaps the last true feat of unaltered creativity came with the divine inspiration that brought us the Snuggie.

In today’s world, how would one even go about trying to create something new? Like so many inventions of the past, the greatest ideas come from finding the simplest solution to a common issue. This led to the creation of irrigation systems, pulleys and the first forms of written language. If something this game-changing would be invented today, it could totally revolutionize the way our society functions.

As far as I’m concerned, the only truly great inventions come from an area of particular expertise. So as I was writing this article, I tried to craft a few inventions that might make my (and so many other students’) lives easier around Brock University. Here are a few inventions that might be included in your student tuition fees next September.

The first is a pair of Mackenzie Chown Sonar Goggles. Isn’t trekking through the maze of Mackenzie Chown a bothersome chore? These goggles send out sonar sound blasts and create an infrared image of the correct routedisplayed on the visor. This is the perfect design for any terrified student on a cursed trip to J-Block.

The second provides an alternative to the needlessly high-tech sonar goggles — a tethered belt. This invention will prevent you from getting lost in MC, by strapping a harness around your stomach and connecting it to a hook in A-block; even the most directionally challenged student can spelunk their way back to the safety of civilization.

These last two inventions are the “Pop-up Friend Pretender” and the “Pop-up Seat” (sold separately). The former is a mannequin that inflates out of a bag. The possibilities for such an invention? Completely endless, from using the mannequin to save you a spot in the patience-testing Subway line to putting it beside you on the bus to preserve your introverted values. The “Pop-up Seat” is an inflating chair (also out of a bag) that will give you a spot in the library even in prime time when those overly-eager “Goodman” scoundrels are occupying all the library desks.

While they may be too specific to really penetrate the mass market, I guarantee that we could swindle a few gullible students to buy the Mackenzie Chown Sonar Goggles with the help of the perfect combination of the Shopping Channel, a credit card and poor judgement.

Not everyone can be quite as inspired as myself; however, some inventions just don’t have what it takes to make it. Whether it’s ‘Clippy’ from Microsoft Word or the Spray-on-Hair, some inventions just don’t have what it takes to make it in the stormy ocean of consumerism.

In fact, one of Canada’s most popular shows is based off of making fun of utterly asinine inventions. Dragon’s Den is currently in its 11th season and features moguls like Jim Treliving (the CEO of Boston Pizza and Mr. Lube) and Kevin O’Leary (marketing and investment expert). In every episode groups of entrepreneurs pitch their inventions and business ideas. If they have a good idea they have the possibility of getting an investment. If it’s a bad idea however, they will be laughed and insulted off the stage.

Watching the show, it is clear to see that inventiveness is gravitating towards the Internet and the possibilities it brings. More internet-based companies are invested in it than actual concrete inventions by the investors on the show.

From easier forms of online banking to an online stock broker that is updated faster than any other system in the world, all of these ideas are some of the ones that make it through the show’s filter to find investment and market success.

Taking this same idea and applying it to Brock, Brock University Student Union (BUSU) has created the Blueprint Initiative in the hopes that it will provide students with similar opportunities to have their ideas of business and inventions heard, as well as receive an opportunity to get start-up money in order to achieve their goals.

The program is in its third year and has gone through some structural changes, said Cooper Millard (BUSU President and VP of the Blueprint Program), “This year will be different; Blueprint is going through a transition. We thought that it would be best for the program, and for students in the long run, if it were to be administered by the University with help from BioLinc, Goodman School of Business, Mentorship Plus, etc. Those offices have phenomenal staff members who are as dedicated as they are knowledgeable about both student affairs and entrepreneurship.”

Each year the Blueprint program sees many students apply with great ideas and potential business opportunities. The program features a group of counsellors that deliberate on who should move to the next round and receive the chance to formally present their idea in front of the panellists.

“We have already narrowed down to our final 12 applicants and we will have a shortlist of finalists ready soon!” said Millard.

Finalists and winners from previous years have a high rate of success. Many of those making it to the final stages of the program are able to fully launch their product and brand effectively.

One of the highlights of past winners and finalists is Gabriel Marchionda, the creator of “My Coffee Brew”. Winning the Nitstopolous family prize in 2013, the business is focused on manufacturing custom K-cups that feature the brands of businesses. Student’s voices and perspectives add a unique addition to the world of standardized business, creating more markets and opportunities.

Another winner from the 2013 competition won the Blueprint prize; Glyn Holmes & David Turk are the creators of “Cloud Cribs”, which is an online service that manages the relationships between landlords and their clients. By providing a place where potential renters can find and interact with properties as well as get in touch with landlords, these young entrepreneurs have changed the way many Canadian students negotiate their housing.

Finally, one of the most striking finalists of last year’s 2013 competition was GoldenRose — an environmentally responsible company that provides both commercial and residential cleaning.

If anyone has ever said that students’ only obligation was to sit down, shut up and study — they’re wrong. Students are now more entrenched in the economic market than ever. Finally however, they are not just consumers, but producers as well. We can only anticipate the great work that is going to be showcased in the 2014 competition since the deadline for submissions just recently ended on Jan. 7.

One of the reasons these past submissions have been so successful is not simply the start-up money that is awarded, but also the integral mentorship that is provided. As Millard stated, mentorship is an “integral” focus of the program this year.

As a result, there will be several sessions such as Entrepreneurship 101 – The Spirit of Entrepreneurship, How to write an effective Business Plan Seminar, MaRS Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshop and a Blueprint Entrepreneurs Roundtable. All of these sessions are available via Mentorship Plus and are sure to help push any aspiring entrepreneur and business man to a successful business launch.

The Blueprint competition will be held in Isaac’s on March 5. We can only wait to see the amazing ideas the 12 finalists will bring to the table. If you missed out this year: attend the sessions and create a proposal because next year’s competition is just around the corner. Entering a submission may just change your life.

  As the lines between originality and stolen ideas become increasingly intertwined, our society is presented with a golden age of opportunity. The internet has given a revolutionary chance to create entirely unique inventions and businesses that can be marketed and sold immediately on a global level.

Create and innovate. Revisions to an existing idea won’t change the world but perhaps you can with that nifty contraption you have stored in your closet or with that revolutionary idea you wrote on a cocktail napkin at Isaac’s last Thursday night.

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