Last updated Jun. 19, 2024 by Peter Jakes


Innovative ideas are the heartbeat of progress. Whether you’re an inventor, entrepreneur, or just someone with a flash of creative insight, finding companies that are willing to pay for your ideas can be the game-changer that brings your vision to life. But how do you navigate through the vast corporate landscape to find these golden opportunities?

This article will guide you through the process of identifying companies that pay for ideas and provide you with a comprehensive list of the best companies known for embracing external innovation. Additionally, we’ll cover some frequently asked questions to ensure you have all the information you need to get started.

Why Companies Pay for Ideas

Before diving into the how-to, it’s important to understand why companies are eager to pay for innovative ideas. Businesses thrive on innovation, which can come from internal R&D or external sources.

1. Accelerated Innovation

In a highly competitive market, staying ahead means constantly evolving. Companies seek external ideas to expedite their innovation process.

2. Cost Savings

Developing ideas in-house can be expensive. Companies can save money by purchasing pre-validated concepts or engaging in open innovation platforms.

3. Diversity of Thought

External ideas often bring a fresh perspective that internal teams might not see. This diversity can lead to unique solutions and breakthrough products.

4. Drives Market Leadership

Being the first to market with a novel concept can secure a company’s position as an industry leader.

How To Find Companies That Pay For Ideas

1. Identify Your Niche

Knowing your idea’s domain is crucial. Whether your idea is related to tech, healthcare, consumer goods, or any other field, identifying the right niche will narrow down your target companies.

2. Conduct Market Research

Look for companies known for innovation within your chosen niche. Market research involves exploring industry reports, analyzing market trends, and identifying key players. Trade journals, industry publications, and online databases like Crunchbase or CB Insights can be valuable resources.

3. Leverage LinkedIn

Use LinkedIn to identify and connect with key decision-makers in companies. Follow companies and join industry-related groups. This will give you better insights into which organizations might be open to external ideas.

4. Open Innovation Platforms

Many companies use open innovation platforms to solicit external ideas. Websites such as Innocentive, NineSigma, and IdeaConnection connect innovators with companies looking for new ideas.

5. Patents and Prototypes

Having a patent or at least a prototype can significantly enhance your credibility. This demonstrates to companies that you are serious about your idea. Resources like the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) provide guidance on the patenting process.

6. Attend Industry Events

Industry conferences, trade shows, and innovation expos are excellent opportunities to network with company representatives who might be interested in your ideas. These events often feature sessions or booths dedicated to open innovation.

7. Use Submission Portals

Some companies have formal submission processes for new ideas. Check the company’s website for dedicated portals or guidelines. Following the company’s submission protocols increases your chances of being considered.

8. Enter Competitions

Many companies and organizations hold innovation competitions. Winning or even participating in these can get your idea in front of the right people.

List of the Best Companies That Pay for Ideas

1. Procter & Gamble (P&G)

Website: P&G Connect + Develop

P&G is renowned for its innovation-friendly culture. Their Connect + Develop platform is designed to seek out and collaborate with innovators to bring new products and solutions to market.

2. Unilever

Website: Unilever Foundry

Unilever Foundry connects external innovators with their internal teams, offering a platform for collaborative growth and development.

3. General Electric (GE)

Website: GE GeniusLink

GE is a pioneer in open innovation, seeking ideas that can make significant technological advancements. Their GeniusLink platform provides avenues for innovators to present their ideas.

4. 3M

Website: 3M Collaborate

3M has a long history of innovation, and they openly welcome external ideas to enhance their extensive product range.

5. DHL

Website: DHL Innovation

DHL constantly looks for innovative solutions in logistics and supply chain management. They have an open door for external innovators that can contribute to their vision.

6. Lego

Website: Lego Ideas

Lego Ideas allows fans and innovators to submit their Lego set concepts. The community votes, and winning ideas are turned into official Lego sets, with the creators receiving royalties.

7. Quirky

Website: Quirky

Quirky is a community-driven platform enabling inventors to submit ideas that are then developed, manufactured, and marketed if they gain enough support.

8. Ford Motor Company

Website: Ford Open Innovation

Ford is continuously seeking innovative ideas, particularly in technology, safety, and environmental sustainability. They have initiatives to support and develop external ideas.

9. PepsiCo

Website: PepsiCo External Innovation

PepsiCo looks for disruptive innovations in food and beverages. Their submission portal welcomes new ideas that can transform their product lines.


1. Do I need a patent to present my idea to a company?

While having a patent isn’t mandatory, it can enhance your credibility. Many companies may sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to protect your idea during discussions.

2. How do I protect my idea when submitting it to a company?

Consider applying for a provisional patent to establish a filing date and discuss NDA options with the company. Always read the fine print of submission agreements to understand how your idea will be used.

3. What happens if a company rejects my idea?

If your idea is rejected, don’t be discouraged. Use the feedback to refine your concept or explore other companies. The innovation landscape is broad, and persistence is key.

4. Can I submit the same idea to multiple companies?

Yes, you can. However, remain mindful of any agreement terms that could restrict you from doing so. It’s wise to be transparent about multiple submissions.

5. How do I know if a company is genuinely interested in my idea?

Look for clear interest indicators such as follow-up meetings, requests for additional information, or entering into an agreement to explore your idea further.

6. What type of ideas are companies looking for?

Companies generally look for ideas that align with their strategic goals. These could include cutting-edge technologies, process improvements, new product concepts, or anything else that could provide a competitive advantage.

7. Do companies provide any funding to develop ideas?

Some companies offer funding or resources to develop promising ideas further. This can include financial investment, technical support, or access to market testing.

8. How can I increase the chances of my idea being accepted?

To improve your chances, ensure your idea is well-researched, solves a genuine problem, and is presented professionally. Include details about feasibility, market potential, and strategic fit with the targeted company.

9. What are open innovation platforms, and how do they work?

Open innovation platforms are online spaces where companies post challenges or solicit ideas from external innovators. Innovators can submit solutions, and successful ideas may receive rewards, funding, or partnership opportunities.

10. Are there risks involved in submitting my idea?

Yes, there are risks, such as the potential misuse of your idea. Protect your intellectual property, use NDAs when possible, and carefully read submission agreements to mitigate risks.


Finding companies that pay for ideas requires a combination of strategic research, networking, and leveraging available resources. By understanding the motivations behind companies’ interest in external ideas and following the suggested steps, you can effectively position your innovative concepts to the right audience.

Remember, the journey of innovation can be fraught with challenges, but with persistence, proper planning, and the right partnerships, your ideas can transform into market-ready solutions that create real value. Happy innovating!

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