Idea Development

Sapience - The UK's Leading Invention Development

It is important to develop the idea, looking at materials, manufacturing methods, functionality and aesthetic form prior to applying for protection.

The process will help to resolve principle technical issues and is a core part of the development of the project. As such, the design work will help the product to gain credibility and inspire confidence in investors, licensees or manufacturers.


Prototyping involves realising the design in a physical form and this allows the designs to be further refined. It is often essential to prove that the product works, which can be done through prototyping. The prototype demonstrates and provides evidence of the product's performance whilst also allowing for a more visual, presentable method.


This section aims to explore the benefits of designing, developing and prototyping your project and how valuable this can be when protecting the idea and presenting to industry. Having a professional presentation is as equally important as protecting your exact design, this section will explain this further.

Why do I need to design and develop my idea?


Almost every project without exception will need to have been designed and developed before protecting or approaching industry. Design work can add value and credibility to your project, and make your presentation more professional. Without a design for your product your project is just an idea and you cannot protect or market ideas.

Why is it important when protecting my idea?


In order to submit an application you need to know exactly what it is you are protecting.
It is better to write the application around your designed product than it is to try and design a product around something you have already written.
Sometimes, through design, further intellectual property can be created which can strengthen your patent application. By designing the product you will have the relevant patent drawings in the correct format to submit with your application and help to define the novel features of the design.

The design process will usually follow the below format:

  • Project Briefing
    We find the best way to start a project is to fully understand the problem.
  • Research & Analysis
    We investigate the key issues that may influence the design: from marketing analysis to the usage cycle, we explore the core factors that will help shape your product.
  • Concept Design
    We work together to produce a range of innovative concept designs. These are then presented to you in an interim design review, allowing you to choose in which direction your product will progress.
  • CAD Development
    Once the form and function is confirmed, we can develop the technical details of your product. This includes validating the manufacturing feasibility of the product, the system design and the internal component integration.
  • Product Visualisation
    We produce photorealistic images, professionally illustrating the design and function of your product. This is delivered as a high quality visualisation package, providing you with professional presentation material with which to approach industry.

Why do I need a prototype?


A prototype can help to add value to a project as well as credibility.
In some instances, you will need to be able to prove that your concept works and that the theoretical design translates into a working model.

Often a prototype may better demonstrate the product: this is particularly the case if looking to present in situations such as Dragons' Den.

Why is a prototype useful if I am licensing?


Prototypes are not essential but can add value to a project. This is particularly the case if you need to prove that the concept works. In this instance, a basic Proof-of-Concept Prototype would be adequate to demonstrate the basic fundamentals of the idea. Some people may choose a more refined prototype to strengthen their presentation but the associated cost of this needs to be weighed up against other factors. Sometimes, a prototype may help you to negotiate a higher percentage of royalties.

Why is a prototype useful if I am looking to manufacture?


Prototypes are almost essential when looking to manufacture. In some instances the CAD designs from the design process are enough to send directly to a manufacturer, but this is predominantly only if the product is very simple and composed of existing parts. More often than not, a prototype will be necessary prior to approaching a manufacturer in order to further refine the design.
We use rapid prototyping in SLS, SLA and FDM for smaller products which allows a real 3D model to be built from the CAD file. Larger models can be fiberglass, vacuum formed or machined.

How can Sapience help?

Sapience have their own on-site workshop to help create prototypes of varying levels. For anything we cannot help with we have company links with which we can outsource some modelling. Prototypes can only be quoted once design work is complete and it takes approximately 25 working days to prepare, following sourcing of materials and components.
Prototyping services that Innovate Design offer include:
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • CNC Machining
  • Vacuum Casting
  • Tooling
  • Laser Cutting
  • Electronics Development
  • Fabric Prototypes
  • Mechanical Design

Visual prototype

This type of prototype demonstrates the overall shape and size of the product and does not usually feature any working parts. The materials will not be the materials that would be used if the product were to be mass produced. This type of prototype can either be left as the raw material or painted to represent the finished product.


Proof-of-concept prototype

This type of prototype demonstrates the key functionality of the product and resolves the main technical aspects of the design. It is not intended to look like the final product and will make use of existing 'off-the-shelf' components, where possible. A proof of concept prototype is unlikely to be made from production grade materials.

Presentation prototype

This type of prototype demonstrates the key functionality of the product and also provides a representation of how the mass-produced product would appear. This type of prototype will largely be built from bespoke parts, however 'off-the-shelf' parts will still be used, where appropriate. It is likely that materials close to the production grade will be used, however, in situations where this would not be economically viable for a one-off prototype, substitutes may be used.

Design for manufacture

If you are definitely planning on manufacturing the product, a presentation prototype is a good starting point. From this, it would be possible to approach manufacturers and discuss any minor changes that may be needed to start mass-production. This is an add-on service at an additional cost, and is not included in the presentation prototype package, simply because not all clients will need this. Some may just need a presentation prototype to take to a meeting with a company, who, if interested, could take on the design for manufacturing themselves.
NB.Following prototyping there may still be additional work required in order to proceed to manufacture. Often the Prototype is enough, or we can provide CAD files where necessary. Manufacturing data and engineering drawings may still be needed and we can assist with this, where relevant.

How to sell an idea

Marketing, licensing & business
Before you think about choosing which is the right path for you to commercialise the idea, it is important to show that you have invested a small amount in the project yourself, to professionally develop the idea. This is why protecting and designing the product are so important, prior to marketing.
This section will explore the various routes to market, through licensing or self-manufacture, and the different steps that need to be taken to achieve either one of these.
A common misapprehension with new inventors is that the hard work stops after the product is protected and designed; however, this is not the case. You have to be prepared to drive your product no matter which avenue you choose; this is where the hard work begins. Persistence and perseverance are key to putting your product in front of industry and the following section will talk through the steps needed in order to achieve this.