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Tool Time You may have a brilliant invention, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't get it off the ground. These companies can help.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Company: The DaVinci Institute, a nonprofit futurist think tank in Louisville, Colorado
How It Helps: It conducts the annual Colorado Inventor Showcase, where inventors display new products to attendees, who include venture capitalists, investment bankers, media, and corporate executives. The showcase is open to anyone; even prospective inventors can attend to see what's on the cutting edge, says executive director Thomas Frey. The Institute also conducts monthly networking and educational events, such as Inventor Bootcamps.
Cost: $200 to $400 to exhibit at the showcase; $39 to $49 to attend; $79 to $99 for the Inventor Bootcamp
Next Step: Visit

Company: Innovative Design Engineering Animation, a product development and animation consulting company in San Francisco
How It Helps: With 90 engineers and designers on staff, IDEA helps inventors conceptualize product designs at every stage, whether you have a few sketches or a working prototype. "We help inventors pick the right materials, manufacturing process, ergonomics, user friendliness, etc.," says CEO Ajay Gupta. "We bring it to life completely."
Cost: Varies depending on complexity (starts at about $15,000). Financing deals, such as a stake in the patent, are sometimes available.
Next Step: Visit or call (866) 480-IDEA.