Anger at Charles' snub to academy for inventors

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The Independent Online
Trevor Baylis (right), award- winning inventor of the clockwork radio, has vented his frustration on behalf of Britain's unsung inventors, after Prince Charles turned down a request to be patron of a Royal Academy of Inventors.

Despite nearly two years' lobbying, Mr Baylis has failed to find any funding - including lottery money - to support his dream. His attempt to enlist the Prince, whom he met last July at Buckingham Palace, was refused on the basis that he is already patron to 400 organisations, and has to turn down the majority of requests.

"You can get lottery money for the arts - they say it's our culture. But people have to realise that invention is part of British culture too - it goes back to the Industrial Revolution, which produced so many ideas. Yet inventors never get support from government," he said.

A Royal Academy of Inventors would cost about pounds 2.5m annually for the first three years, he reckons, after which it could be self- financing. The aim would be to offer advice and funding to people who come to it with ideas.

"We're trying to give credit to people with ideas, who presently are portrayed as fools and jackasses - whereas there's government money for people who put dead sheep in formaldehyde or makes piles of bricks, as long as they call it 'art'. We want to start a renaissance of invention."

Mr Baylis developed a wind-up radio which does not need batteries, for the African market. His company, Baygen, now manufactures 20,000 radios daily and is opening two new factories. But it was only after he allowed the idea to be shown on the BBC TV programme, Tomorrow's World, that he could get financial backing.

Charles Arthur

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