Although they have almost the same value and are often confused, invention and innovation are two concepts. New inventions and ideas occur every day. Many of these developments are helpful, but innovation makes them known and, as such, a part of our daily lives. The Industrial Revolution brought many new inventions, but the innovators behind those inventions made them essential. You can learn what makes a great invention by understanding the difference between invention and innovation.
Let us understand this with an example – According to Arizona State University, the first light bulbs were produced in the early 1800s.” In 1820, Warren De la Rue first attempted to produce an incandescent light bulb.” Although De la Rue invented the device, Thomas Edison, in 1879, finally produced a working model. Edison’s innovation and marketing strategies made the light bulb one of the essential concepts in the world.
Invention vs. Innovation
Key difference: Invention is creating a new entity that can be a device or a process, while innovation is changing the existing thing to improve it.
|The creation of a new product, process, or idea.
|The process of improving, modifying, or applying existing ideas, products, or processes to create value.
|Typically the result of a unique idea or discovery.
|Often builds upon existing concepts or technology.
|Primarily concerned with creating something new.
|Mainly concerned with improving or using something existing.
|Typically occurs first in the development process.
|Usually occurs after the invention phase.
|Often involves more uncertainty and risk.
|Involves less risk compared to invention.
|Requires a high degree of creativity and originality.
|Requires creativity in adapting and applying existing ideas.
|Inventing the light bulb, telephone, or the internet.
|Innovating the smartphone, electric car, or social media platforms.
|Results in the creation of something entirely new.
|Results in improving, optimizing, or repurposing existing things.
What is Innovation?
Innovation is the application of new ideas, concepts, products, services, and practices to help increase productivity. An essential element of innovation is its successful application commercially. You don’t just have to invent something; for example, introduce it to the market so people can use it.
One of the main purposes of innovation is to propose new ideas and technologies to increase productivity and produce good results and value with the same amount of inputs.
Elements of innovation
Idea: Identification of innovation potentials, derivation of ideas, evaluation, and release of ideas.
Concept: Extensive analysis and derivation of concepts for the solution, implementation, and commercialization.
Solution: Development and testing of solutions to the finished product.
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What is Invention?
An invention or invention is a novel object. But to become an innovation, it must imply a societal change. I like the English version of the definition of innovation better. They emphasize more on successful application rather than commercial success (some innovations have yet to be commercially successful because they are not marketable products).
Invention creates a new entity, while innovation involves improvements to existing things. However, both are essential to each other. If an invented thing is not practical, you must make innovative changes. The same is the case with innovation since innovation cannot be done on things that have not been invented.
Inventions are unique and not built on any existing product. They can be patented to protect the inventor’s intellectual property rights by law.
Examples of inventors and their inventions:
- The Wright Brothers – Airplane
- Galilei – Telescope
- James Watt – Steam engine
- Elisha Graves Otis – Elevator
- Guglielmo Marconi – Radio
- Karl Benz – Car
Examples of innovators and their improvements:
- Steve Jobs and the introduction of iPhones and iPads
- Marie Curie and her research on radioactivity
- Elon Musk and his progress on luxurious electric cars
- Nikola Tesla and his work in the production, transmission, and application of electric power
- Nick Holonyak Jr. created LED lights from the light bulb
- Guglielmo Marconi eliminated the telegraph wires
FAQs - Invention vs. Innovation
Can an innovation also be an invention?
Yes, an innovation can involve the invention of a new component or technology as part of a larger improvement or adaptation.
Which one is riskier, invention or innovation?
Invention is generally riskier because it involves more uncertainty and the creation of something entirely new. Innovation, on the other hand, often involves lower risk as it builds upon existing foundations
Is creativity more important in invention or innovation?
Creativity is crucial in both invention and innovation. Invention requires creativity to generate entirely new ideas, while innovation requires creative thinking to adapt and optimize existing ones.
Are inventions more resource-intensive than innovations?
Yes, inventions often require substantial resources for research and development, while innovations tend to require fewer resources because they build on existing foundations
How do invention and innovation contribute to progress and growth in various industries?
Invention drives breakthroughs and new industries, while innovation sustains and evolves existing industries, contributing to overall progress and growth. Both are essential for a thriving economy and society.