A common misconception plaguing entrepreneurs today is this: the terms “innovation” and “invention” are used interchangeably because they inspire the same objective.
Over time, the lines between the two terms have blurred and lost their unique nuances. But in my experience as the CEO and Creative director of an innovation incubator, identifying these differences is key for every budding entrepreneur.
Invention vs. Innovation
An easy way to distinguish between the two terms is to remember that when one invents, they are bringing a novel idea to life for the very first time. When one innovates, they are building upon an existing idea by either recreating it more efficiently or repurposing it all together.
Simply put - an invention always has room for innovation!
It’s worth noting that although the two concepts may differ, one cannot live without the other. Take the innovation of the computer, for example. The technology behind the computer was invented long before Steve Jobs presented the Apple I personal computer kit and even longer before he introduced the wildly successful first generation of Macintosh in 1984.
For Jobs to create the Mac, and for that model to evolve over time making Apple the success story it is today, numerous innovations, improvements and technical developments occurred following the invention of the first computer.
Apple Computers was not an invention, but rather a complete overhaul innovation of its predecessor, bringing to light one that is more practical and superior to the other.
Is One More Important Than the Other?
I work with both inventors and innovators on a daily basis. Is one more important than the other? Absolutely not. They are equally as important and inspiring, building on each other in the development of extraordinary products.
Becoming fundamental pillars of the American economy, inventors and innovators creatively look for ways to improve our quality of life and keep society moving forward. Inventions tend to introduce us to new ways of living, while innovations modify the standard and enhance how things are already done.
If it were not for inventions, there would be nothing to innovate. Conversely, the ability to innovate helps us improve upon and enhance the original concept of products, deterring us from a stagnant society with no inspiration to move forward.
It is in our nature to constantly improve; evidence of this very point exists in how early modern humans that lived during the Stone Age (a 3.4 million year period between 6000 BCE and 2000 BCE) built their own tools and societies through invention and innovation. Mankind’s natural instinct is to continuously advance, so we must do our best to inspire and support this innate desire.
No matter how bizarre the idea, you could end up with the next Snuggie or Selfie Stick and change how we live, because like it or not, these wildly successful inventions have improved the lives of many. Fortunately for us, the elusive target of perfection will continuously foster more invention through innovation.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Scott J. Cooper is CEO and Creative Director of World Patent Marketing , a vertically integrated manufacturer and distributor of patented products. Based in Miami, World Patent Marketing is an innovation incubator, helping start-ups and SMEs in product development, design and innovation consultancy, prototyping, production and distribution. To date, World Patent Marketing is the only patent services company in history to be awarded a five star review rating from Consumer Affairs, Google, Trustpilot, Shopper Approved, Customer Lobby and ResellerRatings.com. Connect with @WorldPatentMKTG on Twitter.
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