Some industries have embraced open innovation more than others. I'm talking about industries that have an enormous appetite for new product ideas. Companies competing within these industries are very actively looking for your innovations because, to be frank, their success depends on them. As a result, they know how to work with outside product developers. They have specific policies and procedures in place. They're more likely to treat you fairly. If you want to pitch them one of your ideas, you won't even have to make a cold call to get in--you can simply use their online submission forms.

My students have had a lot of success licensing their ideas to these industries. You can too.

1. Kitchen

The kitchen industry is on fire. I mean, how many cooking shows are there on television these days? Chefs are veritable rock stars. At the same time, Americans are thinking more deeply about what they put into their bodies. Everyone from Mark Bittman to Michael Pollan is talking about how cooking at home is one of the best ways to feed yourself and your family. All of which is to say: This is a great industry to design an idea for. Gadgets that make cooking easier and cleaner are especially desirable. At Make48 in Kansas City last weekend, the challenge presented to teams of competing inventors was, "Come up with a solution to an everyday problem we face in the kitchen." Can you?

At the end of the day, everyone has to eat. If you have an idea for a kitchen product, consider contacting Warren Tuttle. He's a product scout for Lifetime Brands.

2. Pet

According to the American Pet Products Association, approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37% own a cat. Needless to say, we love our pets! They give us so much joy that we want to pamper and entertain them. People who are barely able to make their mortgage payments continue caring for their pets. For that reason, the pet industry continues to grow. Entrepreneurs I've met on the road tell me that the companies they approach with their pet product ideas welcome them with open arms.

3. Direct-response television

Ever heard of the Snuggie? I bet. It feels as if everywhere I turn, I run into an "As Seen on TV" display in a retail store these days. DRTV has always been a popular avenue for inventors, but these days, the industry is absolutely booming. For one, DRTV companies move fast. Someone will get back to you about your idea quickly. For that reason, I recommend submitting your idea to one company at a time. Another thing I love about this industry is that it doesn't require patents. If you happen to live in San Diego, the final days of Response Expo are going down now.

If you have an idea you think is right for DRTV, consider pitching it to Carrie Jeske at Will It Launch.

4. DIY hardware

This has always been a great industry for inventors. Does your innovation get the job done more quickly or cheaply? You might have a winner on your hands. If you have an idea for the hardware industry, you should consider attending the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, which is coming up in early May.

These aren't the only hot industries out there, but they're definitely among the easiest to license an idea to.

Published on: Apr 22, 2015
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