Inventors need investors to keep the wheels turning

Updated: 2012-08-21 09:38

By Hu Yongqi (China Daily)

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Imagination and creativity can only go so far, reports Hu Yongqi in Beijing.

In the movie 2012, mankind is threatened with annihilation by a deluge, the likes of which has never been seen. Those who survive escape the flood in a gigantic ark.

Inventors need investors to keep the wheels turning

Yang Zongfu, an inventor, emerges from his ark after rolling down a hill into a pool in the test in Yiwu, Zhejiang province early this month. Dong Qi / for China Daily


The idea of this ark grabbed the popular imagination, particularly given the many floods China has experienced in recent years. Where would you find such a vessel?

In Yiwu, Zhejiang province, inventor Yang Zongfu provides if not the gargantuan ark of the movie, at least a diminutive alternative.

Yang invented and is producing a spherical ark 4 meters in diameter that weighs 6 metric tons. It has seats you can strap yourself into, windows and a ventilation system. It's designed to withstand collisions, radiation and high temperatures. Three people could survive for up to a year on the pilot biscuits, water and oxygen it carries.

Yang, 32, was confident in his design after its field test in which he tumbled down a hill inside the ark and into a pool. "It proved to be a success because it didn't shake at all inside. It's safe, very safe," he said.

The ark is just one of Yang's creations in the past six years. He has 300 inventions to his credit and holds 36 patents, which bring his business annual revenue of 100 million yuan ($15.9 million).

Other inventors seem doomed to disappointment. Guo Tianqiao, 80, who holds four patents, retired from a shipyard in Dalian, Liaoning province, 20 years ago. No one has shown interest in his patents, and he has been begging around Beijing South Railway Station since February.

Guo started researching how to clean automobile exhaust in 1995 and was granted a patent for his method in 2003. For 30 years, he devoted himself to his inventions, and the only thing he cared about was how to perfect them.

But he had no experience in developing a business and he had difficulty pitching his ideas to investors. His efforts to find investments always failed.

In 2011, independent inventors contributed 36 percent of the 1.5 million patent applications submitted to the State Intellectual Property Office. However, they hold just 58,797 patents, making up 8 percent of patents in China.

According to the China Association of Inventions in Beijing, 1.4 million independent inventors nationwide are developing ideas they hope to patent. Many of them have quit their jobs, even left their families behind to make inventing their profession.

However, their fates vary greatly, experts say, depending on their business awareness and financial support.

Inventors need investors to keep the wheels turning
Zhao Shuying in the wheelchair her husband Li Rongbiao designed and manufactures in Beijing. Zhang Wei / China Daily

Inventors need investors to keep the wheels turning

Zhang Junlin, stands beside his submarine in Fuyang, Anhui province. The submarine, which he designed, is 9 meters long, 2 meters wide and 2.8 meters in height, and can hold 12 passengers. An Xin / for China Daily


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