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Getting your idea on TV

The Dragons' Den (BBC)

What is it all about...

Dragons' Den is a show that allows people the opportunity to present new product or business ideas to entrepreneurs in the hope of securing investment or their venture. It is programmes such as Dragons' Den that has brought the innovation industry into the public eye and helped people to realise that inventing isn't just for large businesses and corporations. If you are looking to start up your own venture around your new product or business idea then Dragons' Den is a valid way of gaining valuable investment and expertise to drive your business forward, both financially and proficiently.

Who should apply...

The investment available from Dragons' Den is intended for those looking to produce their own product, in terms of manufacture, distribution and advertising. If you are looking to license your product to a company, whereby they take on the project for you and you receive a percentage of the profits, then finding financial investment, through channels such as Dragons' Den, is not for you.

What you Need...

In order to apply or the show, it is now a requirement that should you be looking to present a new product idea then you must have some form of protection applied for ie. 'patent pending'. Dragons' Den no longer accepts applications from people who have not applied for a patent or registered design on a new product idea. In an ideal situation, applying once your patent is granted would be most beneficial to prove the validity of your product; however, this can take a maximum of 4 years to achieve.

You will also need a prototype to demonstrate the product in terms of both design and functionality. Where possible, the Dragons will often want to see the product in action, so a fully working prototype would be necessary. The better the prototype, the more credible your product will appear and, in essence, the product should sell itself. You need to be able to show that you have done your homework and have developed the best product possible. Regular viewers might remember episode one of series seven, where Deborah Meaden refused to give investment to an inventor named Alan Mandel Butler on the basis that he had a good idea, but no viable business proposition.

Finally, you will need a credible and professional presentation and pitch. In instances such as this, it is often the case that they are judging you as much as your product. You need to be able to competently explain the intricacies of the design as well as potential materials and manufacturing options. You will also need to be able to support the product with valuable market research and relevant figures. All of this will show that you have conducted the necessary preparatory work to prove your product a success. If you can say that you have fully developed the product to its best potential and undertaken all the necessary background work then it will make it more difficult for the Dragons to find flaws.

What are they looking for...

Every year, thousands of people apply to appear on Dragons' Den but only a handful are chosen. According to Sam Lewens, the series producer, "the production team look for specific criteria to demonstrate an entrepreneur has an investable idea." These criteria include: marketability, making sure your product will sell; and intellectual property protection, to ensure that competitors cannot copy the product, subsequently increasing its value to investors.

You will need to explain how your idea meets these criteria on the initial application form. So, it is important to make sure you can provide all this information from the onset.

How can Innovate help?

Innovate can help you to obtain protection on your new product idea, whether it be a patent or registered design that is relevant to your project. Innovate can help with patent searching, to establish whether your idea is original, as well as assisting with completing patent and registered design applications. We are on hand to offer Intellectual Property advice throughout the course of your project.

Innovate also have a team of design engineers who can make sure that your product is designed and developed to its full potential. We can help to: establish how your product will work and the components it will require, to prove that your product is technically feasible and provide you with illustrative presentation material to demonstrate your product. These designs are also invaluable when prototyping and our in-house prototyping department can help prepare the final product for you to present.

We also offer a product marketing advisory service to help you in preparing your pitch and presenting your product. This is useful for those of you who do not feel confident enough at this stage to present to the Dragons!

Whatever it is you need, Innovate are likely to be able to help you, in preparation for you application and entry into the Den. If you have any questions about any of this information, please feel free to call on: 020 7354 5640

Information on more TV programmes coming soon...

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