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Discovery and invention

Innovation is a product of scientific and technological progress. There is a large number of innovations that have been created based on great scientific discoveries.

The integration of science, technology, and production is a prerequisite for the emergence and implementation of innovations. Such unification became possible in the nineteenth century. Before that, science did not have a significant impact on production.

There is now a close link between research and production. This is determined by the current conditions of sustainable economic growth, as a result of which the processes of implementation of new solutions are accelerated and the continuity of innovation is ensured. Innovation always stimulates the emergence of new ideas, as it develops a curiosity in man. This is how the innovation spiral emerges, which has the form: scientific and technical progress – idea – innovation – scientific and technical progress – idea – innovation.

The innovative spiral (Latin Spira – bend, curve) is a curve that constantly increases the number of windings from a starting point. Innovation destroys a certain balance of a given quantity and quality of morally and materially obsolete goods and services by replacing them with a new harmony of another quantity and quality of goods and services, but already at a higher level in the spiral of scientific and technological progress. The basis of scientific and technological progress are inventions and discoveries.

Therefore, the concepts of discovery and invention are closely related to the concept of innovation. The discovery is a reliable development of new patterns that make significant changes in the knowledge system. It is a process of obtaining previously unknown data or observation of natural phenomena. The invention is a solution to a particular problem in the field of technology. It may be realized, but it may not be realized.

The invention must satisfy three conditions: 1) be new; 2) to have an innovative element (inventive step, to be the result of a creative idea); 3) be applicable in industry. Invention means new devices, mechanisms, tools, equipment created by man. When discoveries and inventions find their practical application in a field of human activity, they lead to the creation of a new product or technology.

This means that the idea behind the discovery or invention has become an innovation. Only a small part of the inventions are realized in innovations, but they are used as the beginning of new directions, generations, and models of equipment, technology, services, and others. Discovery can differ from innovation in the following ways:

  1. Discovery, as well as invention, takes place at a fundamental level, and innovation at the level of technology (application).
  2. The discovery is most often made by one, individual inventor, and the innovation is developed by teams (laboratories, departments, institutes) and is differentiated in the form of an innovation project.
  3. The discovery is not intended to make a profit. Innovation, on the other hand, always aims to obtain some benefit, increase labor productivity, reduce the cost of production as a result of the use of innovation in technique, technology, and also to obtain some other tangible benefit.
  4. Discoveries are usually accidental, and innovation is always the result of a search for purposeful, planned activity.

Scientific and technical transfer and diffusion of innovations

Innovations give rise to innovations. The chain reaction of innovations develops as long as it covers the production, non-production sphere, and individual consumption.

The spread of innovations from the epicenter is carried out in space, covering more and more new territories. Gradually, the spread of innovation in other industries is expanding, covering more and more industries in the leading countries first, and then in other industrialized countries. The scientific and technical transfer is the application of an already established innovation from one industry (sub-industry) to another industry (sub-industry).

The process of realization of innovations is related to their spread in the economic system. Initially, this distribution takes place in a smaller number of organizations, but then it covers more and more organizations from different industries. This process is called diffusion. The diffusion of innovation is the dissemination of once mastered and used innovation in new conditions or areas of application.

According to J. Schumpeter’s theory of innovation, the diffusion of innovations is a process of increasing the number of followers who implement innovations after innovators, in anticipation of higher profits. One of the important factors for the dissemination of any innovation is its interaction with the socio-economic environment, an essential element of which are competing technologies. As a result of diffusion, the number of producers and consumers is growing.

The qualitative characteristics of innovation are also changing. The continuity of innovation processes determines the speed and limits of diffusion of innovations in market conditions. The rate of diffusion of innovations depends on various factors: a) the way decisions are made; b) manner of transmission of the information; c) specifics and properties of the organization and innovations.

Classification of innovations

Innovation can and must be managed using different methods and means of management influence. They affect to varying degrees the organization of the innovation process, the length of the life cycle of innovation, the effectiveness of innovation. The result of this management impact is largely determined by the classification of innovations, the classification scheme itself, and its scientific validity.

The science-based classification of innovations

The science-based classification of innovations allows us to find the exact place of each innovation in the general system, which will determine its distinctive characteristics. The classification allows effective management of innovation through the right choice of strategy, tactics, amount of investment, risk, corresponding only to the variety.

The classification of innovations includes clarifying the nature of innovations as a product of creative activity carried out in different functional areas and their distribution in specific groups on certain grounds. The variety of conditions in which the innovation activity operates (economic, organizational, etc.), regardless of the community of the subject of innovation, implies uniqueness in implementation. Due to the great variety of innovation changes, there are many approaches to the classification of innovations.

Classification can be done according to different schemes, which use different classification features. Depending on the degree of radicalism and the depth of the changes they cause, innovations are divided into basic (radical, basic), systemic, secondary (evolutionary, improvements, improvements), and pseudo-innovations.

Major and basic innovations

Major innovations are innovations that set in motion new, previously unknown products or processes based on new scientific principles. Examples include the steam engine, electricity, nuclear power, xerography, vacuum tube, transistor, etc.

Basic innovations require the largest investments, the process of their development takes a long time, and their implementation leads to new technological applications. The basic innovations are completely renewed or fundamentally new solutions, forming a new industry (for example bogie – car, telephone – cell phone, etc.).

They create the new economic potential for significantly increasing the efficiency of production and open new areas and directions of economic activity. These innovations are usually associated with large investments (for example, major innovations are the creation of integrated circuits, jet engines, synthetic materials).

The genesis of radical innovations is connected mainly with science, with scientific discoveries, with the change of scientific paradigms. The logic of the development of scientific knowledge of nature and society is to some extent autonomous from the emerging needs and limitations in the development of the productive forces.

Therefore, technological forecasting of radical innovations is difficult. Even greater difficulties are encountered in their economic forecasting. The possibility of strategic planning of the innovation process often turns out to be inversely proportional to the degree of its radicalism.

By Robert Brown

Robert Brown is a longtime manager of a technology organization and author of a management book. In his spare time, Mr. Brown helps students get a better education by helping to publish free study materials.

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