The ABC’s decision in August to axe New Inventors has drawn a lot of criticism from inventors and the community alike. New Inventors was more than a TV show – it was a pathway for budding innovators and a platform where they could showcase their inventions to the general public.
Producer Nicholas Searle insists that it is Australian inventors who are the biggest losers from this decision.
"[The show]'s done a lot of good for a lot of inventors, it's really the only outlet that a lot of inventors at that real entry level, a guy or a girl in a workshop, knocking out a new invention - it's really the only avenue they've got to get something before a broader audience."
However, there is another alternative for inventors, insists 24-year old Sydney entrepreneur Ryan Wardell. His website, Project PowerUp, allows inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses to raise money directly from the general public using an innovative new funding model called “crowdfunding”.
“There’s no shortage of talented people with great ideas in this country. It’s just that most of them never get enough funding to get off the ground. Project PowerUp changes all that,” says Wardell.
Unlike other crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Australia’s own Pozible, Project PowerUp does not accept artistic projects.
“This is about new products, new inventions, new business ideas. You raise money by pre-selling your product or service, so you don’t have to give away any equity or go into debt to launch your business,” Wardell says.
Already there are several interesting projects on the site, including bioplastic drink bottles from CFree and customised 3D-printed eyewear by Beehive Digital Manufacturing.
“The best part is that you still come out ahead, even if your project is unsuccessful. Either you raise some money and gain some exposure, or you find out your idea isn’t viable before you put a lot of time and money into it.”
But does it actually work? Wardell says yes – because he’s used Project PowerUp himself.
“When we launched in September, we became the first crowdfunding site in the world to use our own platform to launch ourselves. We ended up raising $2985 in 30 days – which helped pay the development costs for the rest of the website and prove the concept.”
The ABC may have cancelled New Inventors, but thanks to Project PowerUp and crowdfunding inventors and entrepreneurs now have an alternative.
Project PowerUp is an online crowdfunding platform for inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses. See www.projectpowerup.com for more information.