Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who created the web to help scientists working at the European research lab at Cern. He says the secret of the rapid success of his invention was the fact he made it freely available.
Not all inventors are driven to make money but some want to make a contribution to the "common good", says Dr Tilly Blyth, Keeper of Engineering and Technology at the Science Museum.
"We tend to focus on the commercial development but in fact its often public and government research that has got it to that stage," Dr Blyth says. "If you look at the iPhone you think it's a great invention from Steve Jobs and Apple but look at the vital components like the screen, the chip and the processor and their origins were all in government-funded research."
"A lot of the real cutting-edge research comes from the pure and blue sky thinking done in public research facilities for the good of humanity rather than to make money."