Great ideas for a new technology or innovation excitedly scribbled on the backs of envelopes or on cocktail napkins may have lots of potential. But that promise will never be realized unless the ideas are transformed from scribbles to effective prose that can convince investors, technology licensing officials, or patent attorneys of their value.

Why bother? These lean economic times may seem like the worst time to start trying to sell ideas--especially to investors. Not so, says Len Vernamonti of the Institute for Technology Development in Jackson, Miss. "Usually when times are the worst you can find the best opportunities," says Vernamonti. "[Investors] are looking for opportunities and they're willing to take more risks now because the safe stuff is paying so poorly. If you're inventive and have ideas, now's the time to pounce."

And, of course, the technology licensing folks at universities and companies are always pleased to help...

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