Bay teenagers creating value from their tech IP

Mentoring this weekend’s 2014 Bay of Plenty Secondary Schools Tech Mashup Competition really brought home to me the value of IP.  Not that I wasn’t already keenly aware of the need to protect your IP, and of its worth to a business.  It was the fact that in the space of one weekend 10 teams of teenagers could develop new products to solve real problems, and in the process create value with no more cost than some borrowed computing power and as much pizza as you could eat.  These young people have already learned the value of IP, one of last year’s teams sold their solution for $500 to a local tertiary education provider (and reinvested the money in their next entrepreneurial challenge).  Part of the weekend’s challenge was to pitch their idea to a panel of judges, and many of the teams spend time explaining the potential reach and application of their solution to much larger markets.  Our future tech entrepreneurs and startup founders are already learning that success doesn’t need to come from making and selling your own widgets, but could be achieved through licensing, collaboration or selling the IP.  Perhaps the way our schools teach technology should include how to protect your intellectual property and create value.  After all, in a world when real solutions worth real money can be developed in the space of a weekend, all you really need is a problem to solve, a means to solve it the ability connect to someone willing to pay for it.