Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wisconsin Inventor Recognized as Hero

After Hurricane Katrina, Wisconsin inventor Stacey Babiarz recognized the ineffiency of people slowly filling sandbags with shovelfuls of sand. What a slow, wasteful process when time is running out as disaster approaches. So he created the Bucket Bagger, a mechanized device that delivers sand rapidly into a bag, allowing bags to be filled several times faster than the old way - and with a lot less human fatigue.

Stacey thought his work would help people the next time a hurricane struck somewhere far from Wisconsin, not realizing that his invention would soon help save his own neighborhood. The CNN story, "Inventor's device helps save his own flooded neighborhood," recognizes Stacey's work and notes that he's been dubbed a hero in Wisconsin for his efforts - and for his generosity:
Babiarz typically sells the device for $5,400, but right now he's giving them away to his neighbors and friends around Lake Koshkonong. His hometown newspaper, the Janesville Gazette, has dubbed him a local hero.
Kudos to Stacey Babiarz for his excellent example of creativity, innovation, service and generosity.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Open Innovation at Kraft: Example of Modern Trends

Many large companies are now ramping up their open innovation efforts to better bring in outside inventions that they can use. And open innovation groups are increasingly using online tools to reach out to prospective inventors. Kraft Foods provides a good example of this with their Innovate with Kraft website. It provides guidance regarding some of the types of innovations they are looking for, with an easy submission process. Inventors learn that submitted ideas must be shared non-confidentially and that compensation will depend in part on what the inventor owns. If a patent or copyright needs to be used by Kraft, then there will be compensation to the owner. If a submitted concept is not protected by a patent or copyright, Kraft, at its discretion, may choose to reward the submitter with up to $5,000 - but it's clearly much better if your concept has a patent behind it.

Disclosure: I've done some work with Kraft and really like the company and its people. And that's why I hope you'll use their Innovate with Kraft site.