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So you have invented a gadget or a process that would be useful to society and you want to make money out of it. What now? Commercialise it! 

Commercialisation is the process of introducing your product or service into the market. It is about turning your invention into a business opportunity.  Commercialisation can take different routes, two of these being: starting your own company or licensing your invention to another commercial entity.

Key in whatever route you take is ensuring that your Intellectual Property (IP) is sufficiently protected and therefore you have legal recourse should anyone try to copy it.


  1. You need to start with a prototype (the model of your invention) and to be able to explain how it works. You also need to protect your invention (if it is a gadget that is unique and has never been seen before then you need to apply for a patent).
  2. The next step is called proof of concept and you will need the following:
    • A working prototype that has been fully tested.
    • Full documentation on how it was built and how it works.
    • A good idea of your invention’s value proposition.
    • Good intellectual property protection - Make sure you have your IP protection in place! In this case you may need to consult a patent attorney.
    • A good business case and funding requirements.
  3. Just inventing something and building it doesn’t necessarily mean anyone will buy it. You need to think about whether people actually need it and how to keep up with demand if they do start buying it. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Who would want to use my invention?
    • Is my invention safe to use?
    • Is there a competing product
    • What price should I sell it at?
    • How do I market it?
    • Are there people or organisations that can assist in getting my invention to market?
  4. The last step is commercialisation. This can be difficult as it involves accessing funding to ensure a successful market entry.


Do not despair. There are organisations that specialise in helping inventors bring their ideas to market and it is a good idea to engage their assistance instead of trying to go it alone.

These include:

  • Technology Innovation Agency (TIA)
  • Members of the South African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SAVCA)
  • The Institute of Inventors and Innovators (III)

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