Invention describes the creation of unique or novel devices, methods, processes, or compositions. It predominantly occurs as part of product development or engineering. Innovation is the act of improving an existing product, service, process, or business model by introducing new concepts or ideas. The key point to remember about innovation is that these concepts or ideas increase value, deliver better products, and fulfill customer needs.
Understanding the difference between innovation and invention
Inventions are scientific ideas that are transformed into tangible objects via research and experimentation. Note that inventions may be new products or improvements to existing products.
Provided it is novel, non-obvious, and has value, the invention can also be patented to provide security to the inventor.
But in any case, the focus of innovation is the delivery of an in-demand product that also satisfies market requirements.
The terms “invention” and “innovation” are used interchangeably, but as can be deduced from the above, there do exist some subtle differences between the two terms:
- Invention involves idea formulation and in some cases, how it works from a theoretical perspective. Innovation is about the practical implementation of an idea.
- Invention requires a scientific skillset, while innovation requires a much broader mix of technical, marketing, and strategic experience.
- Inventions occur when a scientist is struck by a new idea. Innovations occur when a company recognizes a customer or market need for a new or improved product.
- In organizations, invention is usually restricted to the research and development unit. Innovation is more pervasive, forming part of the organization’s culture, mission, vision, and even values.
- Invention is more concerned with product creation, while innovation is more concerned with how the product will be something that sells. In other words, it focuses on the benefits of the product to consumers.
Examples of innovation vs. invention
The microprocessor was invented by Italian engineer Federico Faggin and a team of colleagues. When it was invented in 1974, however, it was just another component on a circuit board.
How the microprocessor has been used and adapted in the last half century can be described as innovation.
Products include the earliest desktop calculators and word processors, but today, microprocessors are present in cell phones, kitchen appliances, security systems, and automobile emission control, among many others.
John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley invented the first working transistor whilst at Bell Labs in 1947.
Six years later, a small Japanese company known as Sony obtained a license to manufacture the first transistor radio.
Years after that, IBM used the same technology to develop small but powerful computers.
This innovation signaled the end of computer systems based on relays or electron tubes and paved the way for the computers we recognize today.
- Invention describes the creation of unique or novel devices, methods, processes, or compositions. It predominantly occurs as part of product development or engineering.
- Innovation is the act of improving an existing product, service, process, or business model by introducing new concepts or ideas. However, in some cases, it can also involve new products or services to cater to consumer needs.
- Two examples of inventions are the microprocessor and transistor. The numerous products they have spawned since they were invented are otherwise known as innovations.