For three decades, InventHelp has provided aspiring inventors with the tools necessary to bring their products to market. They also host INPEX, an event touted as the country’s largest invention trade show. And it’s right here in Pittsburgh.
From June 13-15, hundreds of inventors from all over the world will descend on the city to pitch their ideas to big companies at INPEX. Now in its 32nd year, the show takes place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, just a stone’s throw from InventHelp’s Downtown headquarters on Ninth Street.
The latest INPEX is expected to showcase more than 1,900 new inventions covering 45 categories. During the event, inventors receive private pitch meetings with representatives from brands like Walmart, Rubbermaid, Cuisinart and QVC. The son of George Foreman, the boxing legend and indoor grill magnate who also serves as InventHelp’s pitchman, will also be on hand looking for products fit for his father’s small kitchen appliance empire.
“We really try to bring in as many companies as we can,” says INPEX director Nicole M. Lininger, adding that inventors fly in from countries like Croatia, China and South Korea for the chance to pitch their products to household names. “It’s cool that we’re able to bring all these people to Pittsburgh for a couple days and let them see what our city is like.”
In addition to meeting with brand names, attendees take advantage of after-hours networking events and educational seminars on topics such as overseas manufacturing, intellectual property and public relations. There’s also the INPEX International Awards Program where exhibiting inventors compete for cash prizes totaling $7,500, $3,000 and $2,000, as well as various medals and trophies.
The final day will also feature a chance for the public to meet Allan Maman and Cooper Weiss, the teen inventors behind Fidget360, the hot, highly addictive new toy more commonly known as a fidget spinner.
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Lininger credits INPEX for launching multiple successful inventions, including a waterproofing product that Rust-Oleum bought and now markets as NeverWet, and Spin Pop, a popular battery-powered device that allows candy lovers to twirl lollipops with the press of a button. The latter was discovered in 1991 by Cap Toys and is still being licensed by companies like Disney.
Lininger believes INPEX provides an opportunity to “show the world what Pittsburgh has to offer in terms of innovation and technology.”
“I love that we’re keeping it in Pittsburgh and not taking it to Las Vegas or Orlando or Chicago where you see other big shows,” she says. “The fact that we’ve been able to keep it in Pittsburgh is such a great testament to the city.”
The first two days are strictly for inventors and industry experts, but the final day, which includes the Fidget360 meet-and-greet and the awards ceremony, is open up to the public. (Here’s a link to download and share a free ticket!) Visitors can meet Maman and Weiss from 12-2 p.m. and get their hands on exclusive INPEX Fidget360 spinners. Public admission costs $10.