From feeders for diabetic dogs to software to catalogue music, a Consumer Innovation Survey from NESTA today reveals that 3 million people in the UK create and modify products for their own use - a term commonly known as user-led innovation.
The research maps the extent of product innovation by consumers and shows that the UK's reputation for invention is very much alive. Innovators across the country are customizing cars, sporting equipment, tools and a host of other products to improve them, as well as creating completely new products.
The research, the first of its type to be carried out, reveals that:
- 3 million UK consumers create or modify one or more of the consumer products they purchase to better meet their needs.
- Almost half of these innovators report that their new or modified products are, as far as they are aware, original innovations.
- A quarter of these innovators report that their inventions have been taken up by other people, or even adopted and manufactured commercially by producers.
- Male consumers innovate twice as often as women.
- The typical profile of an innovator is male, young, employed and achieves high levels of educational attainment.
The research coincides with the launch of 'Fab Lab Manchester' the UK's first rapid prototyping centre - a mini community factory - which allows any inventor (children included) to make their idea a reality. The facility is free to non-commercial users and it will reverse the top down approach to technological advancement by empowering everyone to invent.