Vyacheslav Gorlash, tenth grader from the lyceum №590 in St. Petersburg, invented a device to help people with visual disturbances find their way. His first project devoted to robotics, which became his hobby, was a simple robot that could move maneuvering around obstacles. Then he decided that his work has to be socially important.

“To make a device which would help blind people I modified the algorithm of the robot. Finally, I developed a device that one can fix on their hand. Now it has four functions: it detects the distance between the owner and an obstacle, determines its color and the level of illumination indoors. Using special tracking sensors it also helps the owner find certain objects,” says Vyacheslav Gorlash.

Vyacheslav Gorlash

To test the device and checkout its systems, Vyacheslav spent two days wearing it with an eye mask on his head. For over two months he was improving the device to make it precise. According to the developer, these days he is more interested in cryptographic algorithms, but in future he may receive a patent for his device.

Is it possible for a school student to get a patent?

According to Alexey Kamensky, head of the lyceum №590, all talented developers have the opportunity to patent their projects despite the fact that they are very young. The lyceum in alliance with ITMO’s Faculty of International Business and Law initiated the School Patent Contest.  Its main purpose is to give school students the opportunity to present their projects and register the intellectual property rights so as to commercialize their inventions.

“It is the only contest, especially in Russia, assisting children in introducing inventions into the market. The contest includes a wide range of nominations, as everybody can take part, not only authors of technical solutions – it can be everything from a new sports game or an outfit to a unique design project,” mentions, Alexey Kamensky.

The School Patent Contest

Here are several examples of interesting projects that received prizes and support thanks to the contest. Anna Mityaeva, a third grader from the school №320, designed several bookmarks. One company bought the project and now one can buy these bookmarks in several stationery stores. Semen Kurochkin, a student of the President Military College of Tumen, presented exercise equipment for snipers. The system includes an eyesight training based on Jonathan Barnes’s methods. The student received a special prize by the Intellectual Property Department of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

Andrey Ten, in his final year of high school, decided that the utilization of obsolete weapons would have been more effective than their explosion. According to the student, proper utilization ways will help gain a lot of non-ferrous metals. The concept became a basis for a research project conducted by ITMO specialists.

Even preschool children can take part in the contest. Last year five-year-old Nikolay Denisenko, presented his project in the field of environmental protection – he invented the idea of a mobile car wash.

The School Patent Contest

It took seven years to turn the contest from a local competition to an international event – last year over 1,500 children and teenagers took part in the contest. Also one organized a summer camp for young inventors in Kazan where children worked on their projects under the guidance of skilled scientists.

According to Elena Bogdanova, Dean of the Faculty of International Business and Law, since its foundation, the contest has assisted in receiving several patents, preparing terms of reference and search for buyers. However, receiving a patent is only the first step. The main goal is to turn a project into a real product. Skilled experts are those who can help children do that. Last year ITMO Master’s students supervised two projects that won the contest.

“First of all, children start developing their ideas guided by their supervisors and then collaborate with our specialists who assist in implementing the projects, some sophisticated calculations, programming tasks and others,” says Elena Bogdanova.

The School Patent Contest

Now inventing is only a hobby for talented school students. But in future they will be able to turn it into their occupation, its name is innovation specialist.

According to Elena Bogdanova, at the end of this year, this profession will be included in the Occupational Classification System. Several Russian universities, including ITMO, teach future innovation specialists – one can receive a Bachelor’s degree in the field of “Innovatics” at the Department of Intellectual Property and Innovation Management.

Despite the fact that this occupation is new, some experts such as deputy directors and development managers already have the competencies of innovation specialists. An innovation expert is more than an engineer or developer – he has to know how a system or technology works and how to promote this.

“As of now new technologies are constantly appearing. It is important to understand whether one has to patent an invention or not, does it make sense to keep manufacturing methods as trade secrets and so forth. All these peculiarities are about so-called knowledge economics that are in high demand. One needs specialists who know for sure what inventions are potentially beneficial. When developing a project they have to take into account all the risks and promotion strategies,” says Elena Bogdanova.