Before understanding what an invention show is about, we need to understand the definitions.

According to the Oxford Dictionary:

  • invent
    • create or design (something that has not existed before); be the originator of.
  • invention
    • the act of creating or designing something that has not existed before, typically a process or device.
    • something, typically a process or device, that has been invented.
  • innovate
    • make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
    • introduce (something new, especially a product).
  • innovation
    • the action or process of innovating.
    • a new method, idea, product, etc.

These are the definition generally accepted by academia, international organizations, and the tri-sector (namely government, business, and non-profit organizations).

Invention Show: What is it about

An invention show is a showcase of inventions and innovations, where new ideas, new products, and new approaches are presented. Other features include but are not restricted to, the sharing of ideas, collaboration, funding, and the commercialization of ideas.

Invention show is often mistaken as just another science fair, commercial trade show, or startup event. But it is different in several aspects. A science fair is merely a presentation of scientific findings with little/no immediate commercial value or no intellectual property. Let alone the element of creation or change. Whereas commercial trade shows and startup events, there is no need for intellectual property elements in their products. Most events lacked the inventive and innovative elements required in relation to invention or innovation shows.

IPITEx 2023 Kiap Demonstration

Kiap Demonstration @ IPITEx 2023 (Source: IDEA)

Invention Show: Is it still a thing

After more than 170 years, is the invention show still relevant today? The answer is yes. Our agenda has evolved over the years. We are innovators, so change is part of our life. The followings are some examples for reference:

Innovation Based Economy

Innovation based economy is nothing new, but how to achieve it varies from country to country. The best way is to build an ecosystem that motivates the local population and attracts foreign talent. The following is a case study of how Thailand did it.

Every year between the 2nd and 6th of February is Thailand Inventors’ Day. It is to commemorate King Rama IX for receiving his patent that day. It is later written in their Consitution, marking these days as the official innovation week in Thailand. During this period, the National Research Council of Thailand will invite innovators from around the world to Bangkok to showcase their innovations together with Thai innovators in Bangkok. At the same time, students in Greater Bangkok are arranged to visit the exhibition. The result is the quality of Thai innovation has substantial improvements over time.

Seeking Talents

There have been talks about seeking talents outside the academic framework for years. One of the most common selection means is through competitions like international invention shows. The following is a case study on China.

Beidou, Tiangong, and Chang’e are signatures of China’s recent space advancement. The average age in the Chinese space program is just 27 years old. Recruiting talents outside the academic framework is a challenging task. How did China do it? Every year China universities will accept more than 250,000 undergrads based on their extracurricular activities. Many of which are inventors and innovators that won national and international awards. More than 60% of these students graduated with a doctorate. So, it is not about the population size but how to pick out these talents.


The startup scene is known for resource wastage and ignorance of intellectual property rights. For example, the “mountains” of unwanted rental bikes a few years ago. Thanks to stricter and tighter regulations, similar crazes are reduced. Owning an IP is now necessary before funding is approved in some countries. Joining an invention show allows startups to access venture capitalists, incubator programs (local/overseas), and fellow innovators working on similar technologies. Besides these, startups can seek collaboration with institutes (local/overseas) and professional advice.