No more burnt sausages: the invention designed with perfection in mind

With barbecue season just around the corner, professional inventor and comedian Stefan Heuss has invented a device that’s guaranteed to cook sausages to perfection every time. At Startup Days on 30 May in Bern, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) and Stefan will demonstrate what start-ups need to know about patents in their Founder’s Know-how session.

Das IGE als Hauptpartner der Startup Days: Wissensvermittlung für Startups in allen Belangen des geistigen Eigentums – fostering Innovation! Copyright: IGE

As a main partner of Startup Days, the IPI will be in action when the event kicks off on 30 May 2024 in Bern’s Kursaal. For the entire day, an experienced team of experts will be on hand at the IPI stand in the main hall to discuss any IP-related questions with visitors. We’ll also be hosting our popular breakout session again. The session will provide start-ups with key, specific information about using IP rights, and some entertainment too.


Necessity is (not always) the mother of invention, Plato

We’re delighted to welcome comedian and professional inventor Stefan Heuss as our special guest. He’ll be taking loose inspiration from Plato’s philosophical proverb and challenging our patent experts. Stefan presents his creative inventions on the SRF late night TV show ‘Giacobbo/Müller’ and elsewhere. His inventions tackle everyday problems directly and unabashedly – problems that most of us have always wished there was a patented solution for. The inventions wonderfully illustrate what start-ups need to know before, during and after filing for a patent.


We interviewed the inventor while visiting his workshop in Dietikon, near Zurich.


IPI: Stefan, we’re delighted that you’ll be joining us for our session at Startup Days on 30 May in Bern. Tell us a bit about yourself: who are you and how did you become known as Switzerland’s own Gyro Gearloose?

Stefan Heuss: Throughout my entire career, I’ve always worked on several things at the same time. I started off by doing an apprenticeship in landscaping, and then I had a number of different jobs. I was an event technician, mechanic, stand builder, drama teacher and musician. After studying drama, I became a comedian and put on my first productions. Appearing on the SRF TV show ‘Giacobbo/Müller’ gave me the chance to combine my various skills. In that environment, I was able to develop my own style of comedy, technology comedy, if you will. These days, I present my inventions at conferences, company events and on television. Together with the musician Dide Marfurt, I’m also doing a stage show called ‘Die grössten Schweizer Patente’ (The Biggest Swiss Patents). And the latest string to my bow is making video clips.


From the Bratwurst-Bratgerät (sausage grilling device) to the Robi-Frost (dog poo freezing spray) and the Kinderwagenrüttler (pushchair shaker): where do you get your ideas from and how do they come to life?

I find that coming up with the idea isn’t the problem – it’s more difficult to turn the idea into a functioning object. I usually start by putting myself in the shoes of a group of people or in a particular profession or life scenario and then I try to determine what real problems this peer group has to deal with day-to-day. I then offer them a kind of mechanical life hack with my designs. Once the object is ready, I have to make a funny skit of me presenting it. I usually do that in video form.


Then when I’m editing it, I have enough distance to streamline the text and condense it down to the essentials. The videos are also an acid test: if I’m bored watching a clip, it prompts me to go back to the workshop and invent a few additional features (I know I have to apply to patent each of them separately with the IPI...).


Was hat Dich gereizt an der Teilnahme an den Startup Days resp. an der Zusammenarbeit mit dem IGE? Wie hältst Du es generell mit dem Thema Geistiges Eigentum?

Erfindungen und ihre Erfinderinnen und Erfinder sind mein grosses Thema. Daher ist es für mich eine Ehre, mit dem IGE zusammen zu arbeiten. Ich freue mich zudem sehr auf den Austausch mit den Startups. Meine Business-Strategie sieht ja etwas anders aus als bei den meisten anderen Erfinderinnen und Erfindern. Ich versuche stets, an einer industriellen Verwertbarkeit vorbei zu schrammen, denn sonst wäre es ja nicht mehr lustig! Aber ich denke, dass die eigentlichen Entwicklungs- und Denkprozesse derer ernsthafter Erfindungen gar nicht so unähnlich sind. Mich mit Gleichgesinnten über solche Prozesse auszutauschen und dabei Einblick in neue Technologie- und Geschäftsideen zu erhalten – und nicht zuletzt auf diesem Weg Inspiration zu finden – ist eine grosse Leidenschaft von mir.


Are you attending Startup Days on 30 May 2024 in Bern’s Kursaal? Do you need to learn more about intellectual property? Then come to our Founder’s Know-how breakout session ‘Necessity is (not always) the mother of invention’ with Stefan Heuss. Register here: https://startupdays.ch/

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