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Welcome to The Bleeding Edge, a new series of posts that will look at some of the latest, most innovative developments in social media, search and the internet in general. For our inaugral post, we'll be looking at Marblar.com, a brand new site set to launch at the end of August that acts as a 'dating site for intellectual property'.
If you're an avid problem-solver, or you fancy yourself as having quite the inventive mind, you might be able to make some quick cash with Marblar.com, the site that seeks to pair interesting but defunct technologies and innovations with problems their inventors may not even know exist.
Marblar.com's CEO Daniel Perez explained the idea to New Scientist: "There are a lot of dormant inventions just gathering dust in research universities. This is taxpayer or philanthropy-funded research that isn't demonstrating the impact it could. So we'll simply be asking our users how they would use this invention."
Inventors on board so far include a host of the UK's premier research universities and public research organisations like the Medical Research Council.
How to Play
Marblar.com is treating the whole idea like a game - users compete to come up with the best uses for inventions, and the winners receive cash prizes of up to £10,000. It's an interesting idea, but one that has certain potential drawbacks:
"Fun it may be - but Finnie warns that there could be problems if users give away for a mere £10,000 an idea that ends up kicking off a billion-dollar industry. This could happen, he says, because most patents cite the industrial application of an invention. "So the person who comes up with a new application may be regarded in law as the inventor. Yet they may just give the idea away online."
How would you like that? You come up with a great new use for a technology that was sitting gathering dust and a host of tech startups make billions - what do you get? Ten grand.
Unsurprisingly, Daniel Perez was defensive about his innovation baby, telling New Scientist: "Users have to ask why they are doing this. Are they doing it to make millions? Or as a bit of fun - creative problem-solving? In our tests, winners did not feel taken advantage of."
In many ways it's a valid argument, and yet perosnally I suspect that I would feel I'd missed out just a little bit on those tens of millions of pounds I could have made. Intellectual property is already in pretty murky waters online - does Marblar.com complicate things even further, or is it just a fun idea that could have huge benefits for R&D across the board?
Time will tell - Marblar.com is set to launch later this month.