New-product research doesn't have to cost a bundle. The Wisconsin Innovation Service Center (WISC), for instance, conducts preliminary market research for a flat fee of $150. WISC taps a cadre of business-school students and some technical consultants to provide clients with a market-feasibility report that includes a competitive analysis and an overall risk rating.

WISC generates a report in 30 to 90 days and will consider drawings, videotapes, market-ready prototypes, or rough business plans. The nonprofit center also does ad hoc research.

It also sells a 129-page primer, Marketing Ingenuity & Invention: An Innovation Guidebook, for $15. Contact WISC at 402 McCutchan Hall, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, WI 53190; (414) 472-1365. -- Susan Greco