16 February 2006

Funding invention versus managing innovation [Business Week]

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This Business Week article by John Hagel and John Seely Brown focuses mainly on an American context, but many of its points could easily be applied to government policies on innovation elsewhere:

“In the West, we still confuse invention with innovation. Even worse, we tend to focus narrowly on breakthrough technology or product invention — that’s what really gets the adrenaline going. Anything else is marginal and uninteresting.”

“But if we shift our attention from invention to innovation, we begin to see a much broader horizon. Innovation — the ability to create and capture economic value from invention — is what really drives both the economic prosperity of nations and the shareholder value of corporations.”

“Innovation isn’t just confined to commercialization of new products. It can also build upon creative new practices, processes, relationships, or business models, and even institutional innovations such as open-source computing — invention occurs in all these domains. And while breakthrough innovations can generate significant economic value, sustaining that value requires a capacity for continual incremental innovations.”

(Hagel and Brown co-wrote The Only Sustainable Edge, which discusses some of the innovation management techniques emerging in Asia).

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