Now is the Time for the Entrepreneurial Inventor

"The responsibility for inventing new products is shifting from corporations to entrepreneurs. After peaking in 2000, industrial R&D spending began a three-year slide, slipping from $185 billion to $173 billion, and R&D Magazine projects the downward trend to continue this year. Large companies, whose obsession with short-term results has led them to unburden themselves of in-house R&D, have begun formal efforts to scour small businesses for innovation.

As a result, inventors and invention houses, such as Invention Science and NineSigma, are harnessing the web not only to pool creativity but also to get products to market faster than ever. There is even evidence that small outside firms may simply be better at inventing the new new thing: Consulting firm CHI Research of Haddon Heights, N.J., which tracks innovation, found that among 1,270 'highly innovative' firms - those with 15 or more patents in the previous five years - the number of small businesses rose from 33% in 2000 to 40% in 2002. While the era of Alexander Graham Bell may be gone - the Census Bureau eliminated 'inventor' as an occupation in 1940 - never has there been more opportunity for entrepreneurial inventors and inventive small businesses. "

From this Fortune Small Business report via this Business Opportunities Weblog post.