Researching new ideas and innovations

Market research is especially important if you have a new idea or invention. You need to make sure no one else has already patented your idea or started a similar business you can't compete with. There are many ways to get help evaluating your idea, such as patent attorneys, invention brokers, or government programs.

Where to get more help evaluating your idea

Patent attorneys and agents

Attorneys and agents can help you search existing patents and create your patent application if you can't do it yourself. See the Canadian Intellectual Property Office's list of registered agents, or search the Internet or telephone directory for "patent attorney or agent [name of your city or town]".

Invention promotion firms

Invention promotion firms will – for a fee – promote and protect your idea on your behalf. Be very cautious before hiring a promotion firm. If you do decide to use one, make sure:

  • They can provide you with solid evidence of their track record. Not just a few flashy success stories, but verifiable statistics on the number of clients they've had and the number who have actually made money
  • They don't collect the entire fee in advance
  • They will provide you with samples of their promotional materials
  • You check the firm's reputation with your local Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, a patent attorney, or a local inventors/innovators club

Invention brokers

Brokers work for a portion of the profits from an invention. They can help you raise capital and form companies to produce and market your invention. They often provide sophisticated management advice. Expect these brokers to be interested in more complex technology with larger sales potential.

University innovation/invention/entrepreneurial centres:

These centres, some funded by the National Research Council, are dedicated to helping inventors and innovators. Many (such as the Canadian Innovation Centre at the University of Waterloo) evaluate ideas for a very modest fee.

Innovation centres will help you weed out bad ideas and identify trouble spots. If your idea looks like it has merit and commercial viability, they will help you find funding sources.

Government of Alberta

The Government of Alberta's Alberta Innovates program helps Alberta entrepreneurs in multiple sectors such as energy and environment, health, and technology. They can help you obtain funding, conduct research, develop prototypes, or bring your product to market.

Visit the Alberta Innovates website for more information.

Government of Canada

The Build in Canada Innovation Program lets you test your product in federal government departments before it goes to market. They're looking for innovation in environment, safety and security, health, enabling technologies, and the military.

Visit the Build in Canada Innovation Program website for more information.

Inventors' clubs

Talking with other inventors is probably the most helpful thing you can do. Find someone who has been through the entire patent application, research, finance, development, and launch process. It doesn't matter if the end result was a success or failure – talking about the process is what's important.

Still have questions?

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