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Synergizing Invention, Investment and Innovation

 

We are living in the age of innovation which means continuous drive for a hange for transformation in our living style for comforts and improvement of social and economic system. Innovation drives economic growth. Joseph  chumpeter said that innovation is the product of new combinations and even without invention, there is possibility for a company or a country to  chieve igher economic growth and Japan is an example as leader in automobiles and electronics through is innovation skill.

 

It is evident from history which shows that innovation had more impact than the invention or the “discovery.” While Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity, it was Thomas Edison who put it to use by creating the light bulb. While Alexander Graham Bell discovered the telephone, it was Motorola that came up with the first hand-held mobile cellular telephone. The gasoline engine was already a reality well before Henry Ford began building Model-Ts. Similarly while Orville and Wilbur Wright risked life and limb with the first airplane, it was a century of development by the likes of Lockheed-Martin, McDonnell- Douglas, Airbus, Boeing, and Bombardier that gave us the luxury and convenience of the modern jetliner.

 

Innovation is the need of the hour for our survival and growth and the term has its relevance and importance in every field, be it business or industry or science and technology. One of the objectives is consumer’s satisfaction and bringing comfort for the human life by looking deep into the  expectation of the consumers and the people in general by looking into the problems of the existing products and the services. An innovation can be defined as simply a better way of doing things or an improvement to an existing product or invention. Invention can be thought of as a new device or process made by human beings. An example of invention is the internal combustion engine invented in the 1800’s which is being used even today in motor cars and several other industrial devices with further changes from time to time by the innovators.

 

The primary goal of science is knowledge and not the solution to a problem. It is a pursuit of new knowledge about the nature. Creativity is to see a problem in different dimensions and the ability to truly understand the problem at hand and this creativity gives birth to innovation. Discovery on the other hand is the primary process used in science to uncover new knowledge. Thomas Edison invented over 1000 patents, but only made one scientific discovery. This discovery was called the “Edison Effect”. The profession in which knowledge of the Mathematical and natural sciences is manifested is ‘engineering’ which; in the simplest sense is the deliberate, orderly process through which technology is created. Thus a proper synthesis of science and technology is also desired and required; one without the other is ineffective.

 

Invention can be understood in very broader term as the discovery or development of a product or process by applying previous knowledge in new ways. Inventions often begin as prototypes, in which the essential features are developed to see if they are workable. These prototypes, or basic working models, are then improved by adding, subtracting, or modifying the characteristics of the prototype until no other improvements can be made based on the prototype.

 

Therefore the root of the problem-solving attitude is the creativity with which we try to identify and find the solution to a problem on a continuous basis in a linear and dynamic manner. Innovation provides the initiative for the change. Invention provides the tools for the change. Investment brings the invention and the innovation together. The triad of the three “I”s makes an organization or an enterprise to move forward. We can also say that invention comes from knowledge, innovation comes from enterprise to bring the change to meet the need of the society and investment or the capital is the lubrication which keeps the engine of knowledge and the industry to move on a continuous basis. This is the trinity of power and there is the need to have a cohesive interaction and coordination to synergies the values and potentiality of the three to make a dynamic society. Today there is a need to bring these three together. Venture capital fund has been playing a vital role to bring this trinity closer to each other by pooling the savings of the middle class to a common platform. This trinity has been possible at the Main Street, Wall Street and the Silicon Valley. According to an estimate VC backed companies contribute to an estimated amount of 16% of US GDP.

 

It is important to note that majority of the inventions belong to small inventors globally as a general phenomenon. In US, according to a report compiled by Intellectual ventures, while 60% of the patented inventions belong to small inventors, almost 90% of the patent revenue goes to large corporations. The role of the venture capital companies and the private equity companies in funding the innovations of the startups cannot be over emphasized. In India, the attention has been paid for the first time by announcement of a policy for the startups as a part of the national policy of bringing transformation in the economy by innovation. In the national IPR policy also, Government of India has emphasized for developing an IP eco system where utilization and commercialization of IP is the key driver to promote invention and innovation in the country. Technology development Board (TDB), under Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India is playing a very active role in making the technology available to the innovators at a very low cost of capital of just 5 percent. The promoter or the innovator needs to bring only 50 percent of the project cost and the remaining 50 per cent is provided by TDB without any capping. Thus the Government is playing the role of the catalyst between the inventor and the investor but there is need for the VCs and PEs to play more active role in this field in our country.

 

Invention is comparatively an easy task as compared to innovation. It is the innovation which makes the patent useful. It is very important that the organization develops a culture and environment for grape vine and group discussion rather than the routine individual habit and discipline of sticking to one’s own desk and to use innovation skill as one of the KPI for incentivize it as part of the Human Resource development Policy. We mention below the statements from some renowned innovators

 

It’s best to work in small teams, keep them crowded and foster serendipitous connections”. – Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg; How Google Works

 

But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem”. – SteveJobs

 

But how to persuade creative people to do so? First and foremost, there must be ease, relaxation, and a general sense of permissiveness. The world in general disapproves of creativity, and to be creative in public is particularly bad. Even to speculate in public is rather worrisome. The individuals must, therefore, have the feeling that the others won’t object”. – Isaac Asimov

 

To conclude, it can be said that there is a need for innovation for economic growth as well as to put the invention to use and for this investment gap must be provided by an independent agency so that the creative skill of the inventor as well as of the innovator can be leveraged and the benefit is shared with the society. In other words, the science and technology together can help in optimum use of the limited economic resources by efficient and effective allocation as input for making the products for the use of the society.

 

References:

  1. Canada West Foundation: I-4 Investment, Invention, Innovation and Infrastructure, December 15, 2011
  2. Peter N. Detkin Founder, Vice Chairman, Intellectual Ventures 2008, “To promote the progressof ……Useful arts”
  3. https://www.wired.com/insights/2015/01/innovation-vs-invention/; Bill Walker, Innovation V. Invention: Make the Leap and reap the rewards (Last visited December 25, 2016)
  4. http://thismatter.com/economics/technological-advances.htm (Last visited December 25, 2016) “Technological Advances: discovery, invention, innovation, Diffusion, Research and Development”

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