Universities should recognise the work of inventors with a new type of degree, according to Britain's favourite inventor.
Trevor Baylis, who developed the clockwork radio ten years ago, said the UK must do more to encourage inventors by honouring their achievements. "We have bachelors of arts and bachelors of science. Why not a bachelor of invention?" he asked.
He has been invited to Essex and Nottingham Trent universities to discuss his ideas. Mr Baylis is concerned that students are not benefiting financially from the intellectual property they generate. Since students are not employees of their university, they own all their intellectual property. However, few can afford to patent their inventions and many universities force them to sign over these rights when they register. Whether their name goes on the patent or they get a share of equity depends on the institution.
James Groves, general secretary of the National Postgraduate Committee, said many students did not know about their rights, and intellectual property regulations were unfair to them and legally unenforceable.
Mr Baylis believes students should have the right to file their own patents. He proposes the degree should guarantee the student a 5 per cent share in intellectual property rights. A university would also be able to award the BInv to anyone in the locality who successfully files a patent.
"Inventors have an image problem as being unqualified, working in a garden shed wearing broken glasses and speaking with a Viennese accent," Mr Baylis said. "They are also seen as always male. We have to change this image. Inventors are the most valuable asset society has and we need to show national pride."
He believes intellectual property principles should be taught throughout the education system.
Having left school at 15, Mr Baylis now has four honorary doctorates, three masters of science and is a fellow or visiting professor at four UK universities.