BT launches first National Inventors Day

BT has launched National Inventors Day to celebrate the creativity of UK inventors, but also to encourage future inventive thinkers.

As part of the initiative BT published the British Invention Index, a study of 3,000 people that addressed the general attitudes towards inventions and included further recommendations for young innovative thinkers, regarded as ‘Generation I’.

Tim Whitely, managing director, research and innovation at BT, said that the event is a way to celebrate inventors past and present.

“That’s why we’ve launched the very first National Inventors Day – and our new report to raise awareness of the contribution that great British inventors continue to make to society, and to inspire the next generation of inventive thinkers.”

According to 68 per cent of the adults surveyed for the study, there is a prevalent need to make innovation more accessible, irrespective of the fact that the UK accounts for cornerstone inventions in history, including the telephone, the television and the jet engine.     

Only just over half of UK adults (58 per cent) and one third of children (32 per cent) could correctly name a British inventor, with the most popular answers given as Alexander Graham Bell, James Dyson, John Logie Baird, James Watt and George Stephenson.  

Out of the 2,000 adults and 1,000 children who were involved in the study, almost a half seem to believe that inventions are the brainchild of scientists, engineers and geniuses. Moreover, amongst adults, an inventor is seen as someone who is a genius (65 per cent), hard-working (41 per cent) and male (37 per cent).

In order to tackle gender stereotyping and to ensure that inventions span across an array of disciplines, the study emphasises the need to challenge standardised ideas, and proposes an inclusion of other disciplines such as art and design in the commonly accepted areas of invention.

Another highlight was to encourage innovative thinking amongst young children, at school and at home. The figures showed that pupils who reached secondary school were less likely to consider themselves inventive thinkers, with only 32 per cent of 16 year-olds regarding themselves as such, compared to 54 per cent for 12 year-olds.

Amber McLeary, 19 year-old inventor of anti-bacterial clothing, said: “I am proof that anyone, from any background, can be a successful inventor with enough perseverance, self-belief and courage.

“To encourage more young people to think big, be creative and become the inventors of the future, we need to invest in schoolchildren who are hungry for experiences that will develop their inventive capabilities.”

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