Tuesday workshop will help inventors to advance


“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”

The above quote, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson in the late 19th century, has long been a metaphor relating to the power of innovation and invention. Now, the Montana Technology Innovation Partnership will be hosting a series of roundtable discussions in eastern Montana to assist aspiring inventors in the area with their ideas. One such discussion is scheduled for 9 -11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 29 at Miles Community College’s Room 106, in association with the Southeastern Montana Economic Development Corporation. 

“MTIP, a Montana Department of Commerce Program, is looking to provide information to current and aspiring Innovators and Inventors,” said MTIP Program Manager Audrey Wooding. “Topics covered include protecting innovative concepts or products, the innovation process including research and development of your idea and feasibility of achieving sales with your innovation. These events are free to Montana-based individuals and small businesses.” 

MTIP was established in 1999. Initially known as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Outreach Program, it launched its operations in 2000. The goal of this program was to increase the competitive advantage of Montana companies applying for SBIR and Small Technology Transfer (STTR) grants. In February 2007, the SBIR Program was officially renamed the Montana Technology Innovation Partnership, according to its website. 

The program’s name was changed in order to be capable of expanding the scope of the program’s work to offer technical assistance to non-SBIR clients.

“Our goal with these roundtable discussions is really two-fold,” Wooding said. “One is to make folks aware of the programs the Department of Commerce has, ours being one of them. The second goal is to help inventors and innovators to take and protect their ideas, and then to move their ideas forward, whether it be through manufacturing or licensing. That’s what we will be focusing on.”

“See “Inventors,” page 5

Those who attend Tuesday’s discussion will hear from a variety of speakers, including an expert on all topics related to invention and innovation. There will be an open question and answer session with the expert to address specific issues, as well as coach attendees on speaking about their inventions without disclosing valuable information. Representatives will also be on hand from the governor’s office, as well as reps from Montana’s congressional contingent.

“We will have a whole host of people there to support innovators and understand the problems and issues they have,” Wooding said. “It is also a great way for these folks to network.”

Jim Atchison, Executive Director of the SEMDC, said he’s excited to partner with MTIP in the discussion, and is looking forward to the sharing of ideas and information.

“This program will help entrepreneurs and business people to understand the legal and engineering aspects of an invention and maybe how to bring it to commercialization,” he said. “We have a lot of creative people out here in eastern Montana, and we thought that it would be good to bring Audrey and her program out to work with these folks. Who knows? Maybe we can have a better mousetrap built.”