March 16, 2011 / 5:37 PM / 9 years ago

North Carolina business to invest $25 million in inventions

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla (Reuters) - Louis Foreman figures just about everyone has an idea for an invention, if not the time, money and expertise to pull it off.

The Charlotte, North Carolina, entrepreneur wants to do something about that. His company announced on Wednesday a $25 million initiative dedicated to bringing individuals’ innovations to the marketplace.

Inventors can submit their ideas to the Edison Nation Innovation Fund (www.edisonnation.com) for $25. No other money is required from them to develop the ideas, and they will share the royalties if the product succeeds.

“We’re really greasing the rails. We’re making it easier for those great ideas to finally get in the hands of companies,” said Foreman, CEO and co-founder of Edison Nation, a search service that matches retailers’ product requests with inventions.

Sound like an infomercial? Edison Nation has some experience in that area.

The company publishes the Inventors Digest national magazine and produces Everyday Edisons on PBS, a TV show that launched inventions including the Emery Cat for felines and Gyro Bowl for children.

The Innovation Fund comes at a time when fresh ideas are king at the White House. President Barack Obama spoke of “winning the future” with American innovation during his State of the Union address.

On Tuesday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke reinforced the president’s message to business leaders at the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s inaugural public forum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

“Ideas and inventions are the lifeblood of our economy,” Robert Stoll, Commissioner for Patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said in an e-mailed statement to Reuters.

“Supporting these inventors with information and other resources to help them succeed is critical to preserving and growing our innovation economy.”

A recent poll Edison Nation commissioned found four in 10 Americans have had an idea for an invention or a way to improve an existing product but more than two-thirds said they never pursued their concept.

Foreman said the Innovation Fund’s $25 million pot — backed by Edison Nation and other investors — will provide fertile ground for those ideas to take root.

“If you’ve got a great idea, submit it,” said Foreman, an appointed member of the Commerce Department’s Patent Public Advisory Committee. “We’ll figure out how to do it.”

Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jerry Norton

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