I Have an Idea That I'd Like to Submit to a Certain Industry

I have an idea; it’s a simple solution to a problem that is specific to one industry. In a perfect world, I’d like to make money off of this idea, but IANAEngineer and wouldn’t know where to begin - to say nothing of navigating the legal morass of patents, permits, and what have you. Failing that, I think the implementation of my idea (assuming it’s workable) would help the industry in question move forward in gaining more acceptance, and I’d be more than happy to accept a one-time “Finder’s Fee” or even forgo money entirely just for the sake of the benefit to the industry.

How does Joe Consumer get his idea to the right people in a situation like this? My idea is to start searching for trade associations (or something) of the industry in question, dig around the “Contact Us” pages, and see if I can get someone to listen to me. Or is there a better way?

It’d probably help the quality of your answers a lot if you named the industry in question. If you think revealing details as minor as that might give away your idea, then not only have they probably already considered and dismissed it as too expensive, but they probably get regularly approached with very similar ideas.

The industry in question is the wind power industry. The problem in question is the problem* of birds being killed by the blades on the turbines.

*At this point, I think it’s more of a hypothetical problem than an actual one, but I could be wrong.

I think the number of birds being killed would have to be very high for the industry to justify spending what would probably be a lot of money.

Think about the amount of equipment and work it would require to retro-fit the blades of all the current turbines with something to save the birds.

Unless you’ve come up with another way of doing it that doesn’t involve changing anything on the blades themselves.

Paint giant cat faces on the turbines.

The problem is that virtually every field is plagued by input from well-meaning nonexperts who think they’ve come up with some brilliant idea that will change the world, but which just simply won’t work. Poke around online, and you’ll see thousands of people making very similar claims. My recommendation would be first to talk to someone you trust with enough expertise to tell you whether or not there’s any merit at all to your idea.

with paws at the blade tips.

Good answer to a good OP. I’m sure a lot of us has invented a white suit or something that (unlike OP who is charitable) can make us a million bucks.

Mine is for two clever phrases on t-shirts for women, but I don’t know how to get it done and not have everyone just steal it.

FWIW, with the money I, like Ralph Kramden, look forward to buying a string of palaponies.

Even if the industry would listen, they would not listen with an open mind nor would they be kind - even if you are not an engineer. You could have the greatest idea, but if you haven’t thought through the technical details and its associated economics, they won’t be interested because it would be a waste of time to “go down that rabbit hole” no matter how many birds it would save.

Believe me, unless you can do it yourself enough to patent and sell it, no one will really listen nor pay you. And, if it’s free, then it’s worth to them is commensurate.

Why would this be a problem? Is there a shortage of birds?

And here’s your difficulty. Unless, from the perspective of people in the industry, it’s an actual problem, no-one in the industry is going to have any interest in your “solution” to it, and there is nothing you can do to get them to listen to you.

So step 1, for you, is to find out if there is anyone in the industry who thinks this is a problem. If the relevant journals and trade papers don’t contain any discussion of this problem, then it isn’t a problem. If they do, then the authors or the relevant papers or the people cited in the relevant articles are the people you need to approach.

There are already very few birds killed by wind turbines relative to things like glass windows and outdoor cats. This is generally more of an issue brought up by fringe environmental groups – or if you ask me, astroturfing make-believe green groups who want to dissuade wind power in favor of fossil fuels – and not a very serious threat to wildlife compared to other risk factors.

You should search for and read through a few Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for proposed wind projects. Pay attention to the “mitigation” sections to see if what you’re proposing has been considered. Many states also have their own version of the federal EIS document – in California it’s called an EIR, and other states have similar things. California also has a whitepaper on common methods used to reduce bird and bad fatalities. And finally you might also want to read through and more general Avian Protection Plans, but I am not familiar with those.

The mitigations I’ve read about (just to get rid of some of the obvious ones for you): siting them in less bird-trafficked areas to begin with, using trained hawks to chase away other birds, using radar and/or infrared thermal infrared to detect birds and turn off blades, studying migration patterns and seasonally disabling farms in migration routes, passively listening to bat sonar to disable blades, using fake hawk or owl calls to dissuade birds, using strobe lights to scare away birds at night, charging them to replace the birds they kill (by making them pay to breed more of the species and build nests for them outside the affected area).

If your idea is none of those, is more cost-effective than those, and you’re willing to share it, go ahead and try. If the industry doesn’t want to listen to you, some of the environmental groups might. Your local Audubon Society chapter might have contacts with the local utility provider, or can connect you to someone who can connect you to somewhat. It has to be a really good idea, though. As others have said, most ideas are easy; it’s the funding and execution that are usually difficult.

And try to think outside the box. Your idea may be utilized even better for some other similar problems (bird-plane crashes, pigeon/crow control, general birdwatchers, etc).

According to these figures wind turbines have a miniscule impact on bird population (approx 10,000 deaths a year) as opposed to domestic cats ( measured in 100’s of millions).

There may well be wind trubines which through design or location have a more significant local impact, but it would apppear that its less of a problem nationally

Please do not despair. Here is a book that can help you : One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the work


A few ways:

  1. Go hire a law firm.
  2. Go to an energy / utility investment forum. You pay a couple thousand and you get a chance to talk to people that invest.
  3. Try reaching out to a company that might make sense.

For example, when I was at one of those forums a few years back, I met this guy. He’s the managing partner at a small capital venture company focused on clean energy. He’s brilliant (PH from yale, JD from Harvard, Fulbright scholar, etc.) and he probably won’t give you the time of day unless your idea is also brilliant, but if it is, and it’s significant enough - he’ll find a way to make money with it.