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Inventor - Mark Sheahan, managing director, Compgen. What do you do? I look at packaging and find a way of improving it.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

What do you do?I look at packaging and find a way of improving it. I try to get an idea for an opening action up to manufacturing standard on paper. If I think it has some commercial merit, I'll have prototypes made. If these work well, I'll get pilot tools made. Then I'll file a patent application and take samples to industry to see if I can sell the licences. My most successful invention is Squeezeopen, which won INPEX, America's largest invention show, last year.

How did you get the job? I used to teach IT. One of my clients, a plumber, wanted to learn a design package, so we had to invent something. We came up with a plastic magnetic boiler badge that included the engineer's details to give them repeat business. It didn't make me a lot of money, but it was a start. I learnt about plastics and since then I haven't stopped.

Does reality match the dream? Yes. I love inventing, but I could do without the financial stress. I've survived as a full-time inventor for 10 years, but it's hard. Once, I sold my car to pay for a patent, and I've slept on a factory floor to save rent. Inventing really is great fun and exciting. It can be pretty amazing: I've met the Queen and have been made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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