ACID is delighted to announce that the 2008 British Inventor of the Year Award winner, Tanya Ewing. Tanya will be joining ACID’s other Ambassadors Sebastian Conran, Kevin McCloud, John Noble Director of the British Brands Group and Frederick Mostert of My Authentics, all of whom are champions in their pursuit of respect for intellectual property within the creative industries. On being made an ACID Ambassador, Tanya Ewing said, “ I am honoured to be asked to be associated with this unique and creative organisation that I have got to know so well through my membership over the last three years.”
Tanya is the inventor of Ewgeco an energy-monitoring device that uses a ‘traffic-light’ display to show real-time use of electricity, water and gas took home the top prize as the 2008 Inventor of the Year at the tenth annual British Female Inventor and Innovator of the Year Awards in Cardiff held last year. Top of her priorities was to apply for an international patent and design registrations for her idea. She has no formal engineering or product design training, having left school at 17 to take up a vocational career as a dental hygienist. As a dyslexic herself, she was very keen to develop an easy-to-read ‘traffic-light’ display for her energy-monitoring device.
It was Tanya’s frustration at trying to extract useful information from her utility bills, coupled with her concern for improving energy efficiency, that gave her the idea of designing a single device to display how much energy and water a building is using at any moment.
Says Tanya, “I started sketching what I thought a meter inside a home should look like and that ultimately led to Ewgeco. The business now employs seven people in Scotland and was valued at £3.4m in September 2008. We are currently going through our third round of fund-raising, and are aiming to get the maximum value from our IP. In our first two rounds we raised £920,000 from business angels, and our intellectual property was vital. Everybody always wanted to know who owned the IP (the company) and how well protected it was. Right from the onset out intellectual property was very well protected. For example, we have used many consultants and all of them signed assignation agreements, so anything they worked on (product design, feasibility, electronics etc) was owned by the company. We have applied for a patent and protected the look of the meter through design rights, and the Ewgeco name through a trademark”.
Tanya’s search for IP advice started with the Intellectual Property Office website. She received a lot of help via the Innovators Counselling and Advisory Service for Scotland, which offers free advice to help people protect and commercially exploit their ideas. As a member of ACID she also received useful practical help and advice and even before becoming an ACID Ambassador advised many other inventors and designers to contact the ACID hotlines”.
Tanya Ewing’s advice to other would-be inventors is, “Get your IP house in order right from the beginning. I was lucky, in Scotland there is the Intellectual Asset Centre, a unique centre to assist in deriving value from their Intellectual Assets. Supported by the Scottish Government, the Centre was developed in response to the demand from businesses to learn more about their Intellectual Assets. Initial studies showed that, despite the number of businesses asking for advice, there were still many more that were not aware. Moreover, the value of unexploited Intellectual Assets lying in Scottish companies were judged to be several billion pounds! The IA has helped me enormously in underpinning the credentials of the company and enabled me to create a sound business case to attract more funding for growth”.