The Difference between Invention and Innovation

November 8th, 2010 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Creativity | Ideas | Innovation

“Invention refers to new concepts or products derived from an individual’s ideas or from scientific research. Innovation, on the other hand, is the commercialization of the invention itself” – Daniel Scocco

The words invention and innovation are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are quite distinct, although not mutually exclusive. An invention is a new creation, device or process, derived from an individual’s ideas or from scientific research, while an innovation is the practical application or commercialization of a new idea or concept (it could be an invention) into something of value in the marketplace, whether it is a new product, process or organizational system. The creation or development of the invention alone does not translate to an innovation. The invention must create value for it to become a successful innovation. We find that many inventions that are patented do not result in successful innovations in the market, in society, in the community or in an organization.

Both invention and innovation begin with a creative process. A curious and open mind, that identifies an opportunity or makes a discovery, is the basis of developing an invention or an innovation. Inventors such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Shunpei Yamazaki have created a number of new inventions, but only a percentage of these have been successfully commercialized. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was a great inventor but he did not commercialize any of his inventions (e.g. the parachute, personal flying wing, military tank etc). Some of his inventions were successfully commercialized by others hundreds of years later.


It can be argued that the iPod is an innovation rather than just an invention, because it includes an innovative operating system, pleasing aesthetics, ease of use and a link to the online iTunes software providing value through a complete user experience. The early MP3 players, however, were simply inventions, some of which later became succesful innovations.

I have often wondered what have been the “Top 10 Inventions” of all time. Particularly inventions that have become significant innovations adding enormous value to humans and society. Following is my list of the top 10 inventions of all time (OK, maybe twelve):

  1. Steam engine
  2. Printing press
  3. Light bulb
  4. Telephone
  5. E=mc²
  6. Automobile/Airplane
  7. Penicillin
  8. Transistor/silicon chip
  9. Computers
  10. Laser

What are your “Top 10 Inventions” of all time?

Dr John Kapeleris

Did you like this? Share it:
Be Sociable, Share!

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 You can leave a response, or trackback.

6 Responses

  • David says:

    My top ten are:

    1) DNA Sequencing
    2) Telephone
    3) Internet
    4) GPS
    5) The Pill
    6) The Toilet
    7) Penicillin
    8) Language
    9) The Wheel
    10) Flight

  • The_AIC says:

    The AIC recently spoke to Chief Executive Officer of, Robyn Lewis, who shared 4 innovations she would have liked to have been responsible for:

    1. The contraceptive pill, for potentially liberating half of humanity from the tyranny of constant, unplanned pregnancies and childrearing;
    2. Mobile, portable computing, for giving those of us with financial means the freedom to create and control our personal spaces, wherever we are;
    3. The internet, for connecting us to each other and to the huge body of human knowledge now online;
    4. The Grameen Bank, for starting the process of empowering the poor in third world countries.

    The full interview can be viewed here: link to

  • The_AIC says:

    Interesting list on the “Top 10 Accidental Inventions that Changed The World”

    1. Penicillin
    2. The Microwave
    3. Ice Cream Cones
    4. Champagne
    5. Post-It Notes
    6. Potato chips/crisps
    7. The Slinky
    8. The Pacemaker
    9. Superglue
    10. LSD

    Find out more about them here:
    link to

  • PJ says:

    Five awesome creations:

    1. Skype (being able to see and talk to friends anywhere in the world – for free!)
    2. The iPhone (back in the day I thought a colour screen was exessive… now I cant live without my iPhone. Its got my music, pictures, calendar, games, notes, everything! how did we survive without it before?!)
    3. Laser Hair Removal (i guess it could be improved to be less painful)
    4. The Hair Straightener (every girl has one)
    5. Chocolate (my best friend)

  • The_AIC says:

    A Timeline of Australia’s Most Innovative Inventions can be found on Business Review Australia…

    link to

  • Monica says:

    Because the admin of this web site is working, no doubt
    very shortly it will be well-known, due to its quality contents.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *