Simon Cowell's Syco Television and Fremantle Media have launched a US-wide hunt for a winning new invention and $1m in prize money is up for grabs.
Simon Cowell's Syco Television and Fremantle Media have launched a US-wide hunt for a winning new invention and $1m in prize money is up for grabs, writes Paul McNally.

The format

Pop Idolmeets Tomorrow's Worldin this nationwide search for a marketable new product. A panel of judges visits seven cities across the US to audition members of the public who turn up with sketches and products ranging from the practical to the ridiculous. The entrants are narrowed down to a group of nine finalists who are each given $50,000 to spend on research and development. The developed products are then scrutinised by the panel - including British entrepreneur and Dragons' Denjudge Peter Jones. Ultimately it is the viewing public that gets to choose which inventor will win $1m to turn their idea into a mass-produced item.

Who's showing it?

The American series made its debut on ABC in mid-March and airs every Thursday evening at 9pm EST, pulling in up to 14 million viewers.

Coming to the UK?

Talkback Thames is developing a UK version of the show, which is likely to be renamed The Inventor. It pitched the idea at MipTV last week, and ITV is thought to be interested. Simon Cowell himself does not appear on the show, so other channels might also consider bidding.

Will it work here?

The recent success of shows such as Dragons' Denand The Apprenticesuggests there is definitely an appetite for business-themed contests.

And just think of the merchandising opportunities. The Inventorglow-in-the-dark musical toothbrush, anyone?