“I am an inventor at heart, I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer, I have many other ideas in my head”: Jean-Baptiste Wallace, the designer of a door-to-balloon met in the aisles of the 117th concours Lépine, is sure that his invention will “hit”. This cameraman is competing for the first time with this product called “Celuka”, which he has filed the patent with the national Institute of industrial property (INPI) as any candidate. He is proud to say that he “went to the end of his dreams”. It is by riding a bicycle that he imagined the object, made of two straps and a loop and can hang on to the handlebars, before the design in the summer of 2015 on her sewing machine. Since then, the fifty-year-old is looking for partners to commercialize it: “I am convinced that it can hit”, he said to the AFP.
Inventors like him, there are hundreds in the alleys of the Paris Fair. Came up with a simple prototype, a few copies or even a model already ready to marketing, they are hoping that the event will help to break through, or even develop to the point of living from their invention. As before them, the happy object designers initially considered to be revolutionary before becoming indispensable: ballpoint pen, press puree, iron steam or contact lenses. Held every year since 1901, on the initiative of the prefect of police Louis Lépine, the competition is a key stage in the life of an inventor. “He brought light to those who are in the shadows”, explains to the AFP its president, Gérard Dorey.
This year, 583 inventions are vying for the most prestigious prize, the prize of the president of the Republic, which will be handed out Monday night. The profiles of the candidates vary, according to Mr. Dorey: there are “those who invent a object that makes their lives easier”, those who “wish to help someone in trouble” and finally, those who are of the “serial inventors”, inventors in series, as the Nice Raoul Parienti, 150 patents to his credit! To be an inventor, it is necessary to “curiosity, pugnacity, and keep a mind young”, says René-Georges Lavergne, president of the jury since 2004 and a retired engineer. Among them, one-third of women and more young people, particularly in the connected universe.
As well these high school students from Bourges who presented “Gestual Move”, a control system of the wheelchair can be used with the chin, or hands, in order to help one of their classmates with disabilities. “A school project at the outset, our invention has gained momentum,” says AFP Thomas, 15, who demonstrated such a pro. Isabelle Millasseau, an air hostess, was designed “Footup”, a foot rest for a child sitting on a car seat. Doriane Mallet has invented a “barrier to lollipops”, which prevents the pacifier or favourite toy from falling out of the crib. And the interior architect Nicolas Véger has developed a solution in tune with the times: his “Very Good” Box is a piece of furniture and compact design comprising bedroom, kitchen, dressing room, office and bathroom on 6,30 m2.
“Knowing how to let go of a licence”
“Sometimes, it is necessary to calm down their enthusiasm”, says Mr. Lavergne: “the problem of the inventor, it is when unhooking” on the aspect of industrialization and commercialization, because “this is no longer his business.” If the “pros know when to let go of a license, others go to ruin to go to the end of their idea,” he says. And then good inventions are sometimes “blocked” by large industrial groups or “because this is not the time”. Problems that should not meet the “MedPack” Samuel Mercier, a nurse in emergency to the Firefighters of Paris: this workstation medical extra-hospital setting at the point in their six years of experimentation, has already been identified by the Health service of the Armies, and several hospitals in Europe.
In awe, a visitor slips: “you are the MacGyver of care!”