Here’s another of our articles that we wrote for the UK IPO to celebrate World IP Day 2012.

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires a creative imagination and marks the real advances in science.” Albert Einstein

World Intellectual Property Day 2012 is recognising visionary innovators.  Those lateral leaders who have broken new ground with great foresight.  They have challenged perceptions and thought differently to everyone else.  They’ve ignored the critics, leapt over the hurdles and fought hard to achieve many of the great innovations of today.

One of the greatest lateral thinkers, Edward de Bono, was once asked by Ford how to make their cars more attractive.  De Bono thought differently.  He wanted to make the driving experience more attractive.  His solution… ‘Ford Only’ parking in all major cities.  This is lateral thinking, and this is what our top 10 UK visionary innovators have shown.  When it comes to visionary innovators in the UK, there are plenty.  So we’ve picked those that are lesser known about.  So in no particular order, here they are:

1.)    James Francis Pantridge – Portable Defibrilator

‘Lives could be saved if patients suffering a cardiac arrest could be treated at the scene’. Pantridge invented the portable defibrillator and introduced the modern system of CPR for the early treatment of cardiac arrest.  A physician, cardiologist and inventor from Northern Ireland, Pantridge’s first model weighed 70kg.  He stuck at it, and by 1968 it weighed just 3kg.

2.)    James Goodfellow – Chip and Pin

‘People need to be able to access their money outside banking hours’. Goodfellow, a Scottish design engineer, was set the task of ensuring that only a genuine customer could actuate a cash dispenser. With a machine readable encrypted card and a unique Personal Identification Number, people could access their cash at any time of day through a hole in the wall.

3.)     Jonathan Ive – iMac, iPhone, iPod, iPad

‘Why should technology be encased in ugly grey boxes?’  Ive knows just how to think differently.  Why can’t technology be beautiful, memorable and iconic?  Ive created for Apple Inc a series of ‘functionally clean, aesthetically pleasing, and remarkably popular products’.

4.)    Neil Papworth – SMS Text Messaging

‘Why can’t we send short, simple messages’ Papworth a British engineer, aged just 22 at the time, sent the first text message  from his office in Berkshire.  With around 15 million text messages being sent every minute, Papworth never dreamt it would turn into such a phenomenon.

5.)    George Hockham – Fibre Optics in Telecommunications

‘The loss in the fibres makes them unsuitable for long-distance communications.’

Hockham, together with Charles Kao, spotted that imperfections in the glass were causing this loss.  The basis of their work forms the extensive web of fibre optic communications that make up the information superhighway.

6.)    Alec Jeffreys – DNA Finger-Printing

‘How can we identify individuals?’

Jeffreys had a Eureka moment when reviewing an X-ray film.  What first seemed to be a complicated mess, suddenly appeared to have patterns.  Jeffreys knew then that this discovery had great potential in forensic science and paternity testing.

7.)    Owen Maclaren – Collapsible Buggy

‘Pram’s are bulky, impractical and undesirable.’

When Maclaren retired from being a test pilot and aeronautical engineer, he spotted issues with prams when taking care of his grandchildren.  He invented a durable, lightweight buggy that weighed just 3kg and could fit into the space of an umbrella.

8.)    Andrew Ritchie – Brompton folding bicycle

‘Mission – to build the best portable bicycle in the world’.

 When asked about his first prototype, Richie replied that it was “ride-able and it worked, but it is something that I am deeply ashamed of as a piece of engineering.” He stuck at it, and there are now thousands of possible permutations of Brompton Bike, all manufactured in the UK.

9.)    Kenneth Grange – Industrial Design

‘There are not many things that cannot be improved’. Grange has designed numerous household items from Kenwood food mixers, to Wilkinson Sword razors, and even the interior of the London Black Cab.  His designs are iconic and familiar, and he has carved such success by thinking differently.

10.)  Ben Way – Entrepreneur

‘Delivering the future in a changing world’. Way started his first company at the age of 15.  As a teenager he became one of the first dotcom millionaires. He set up leading innovation company Rainmakers in 2002 to create ground-breaking technologies and innovations from medical devices to environmental technologies and robotics.

So there you have it – people from all different walks of life, but all with the same goal – to challenge the unthinkable and solve everyday problems in a revolutionary new way.

In the words of Edward De Bono “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way”, so this World IP Day, could you think differently, and become a visionary innovator of tomorrow?

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