Invention vs. Innovation

9 Jun 2010 Sandeep Mehta

The article “Innovation is key to prosperity” from Canada (The Star) does not have a lot of useful information, but it does actually make a claim that there is too much money being spent on invention and too little on innovation:

The Canadian government puts too much emphasis on invention, and not enough on innovation – even though the latter drives economic prosperity, according to a new report from a competitiveness think-tank. Government policy tends to support inventions at the expense of improvements in existing products or processes that would provide value to consumers, says the provincially funded Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity.”

The article makes amazing claims:  Innovation needs to be improvement of existing products.  “Business Innovation” can be the real driver of innovation and not science and technology.

“Obviously, we need science-based discovery as a foundation for innovation. But our prosperity is the result of business innovation that adds value to our day-to-day lives,” said Roger Martin, chair of the institute.

“Without greater emphasis on true innovation, we will continue to spend billions of dollars funding invention and get little innovation to show for it.”

I have found definition of innovation to be a pretty regular problem R&D management.  How one defines innovation will decide how much money is being spent on innovative projects and how much on the others? How does your organization measure innovation?

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