When I think of the word “inventor,” the first name that jumps to mind is Caractacus Potts, the droll inventor of the 1968 musical, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” He invents to amuse himself and his children, without stopping to think if they’ll fetch him money.
There’s a great deal of confusion about the meanings of “invention” and “innovation.” The two are different.
Invention generates new patents, models, and designs. Much of the work done in R&D laboratories in corporations and at universities is invention. It’s research for the sake of building knowledge, not with thought of commercialization. It’s innovation, however, that transforms these inventions into goods and services that can be marketed to the public.
People talk about the “invention” of the light bulb or the “invention” of the iPhone, when, in fact, neither Thomas Edison nor Steve Jobs were inventors. They both [employed] existing technology in new ways, with an eye toward a big market. They were innovators.
h/t: BLOOMBERG BUSINESS