The Innovators Quandary

Now here is a predicament for today’s innovators and inventors. According to Matt Ridley author of the Rational Optimist, innovators are in the business of sharing, it is the most important thing they do, for unless they share their innovation it can have NO benefit for them or for anyone else.

Of course you can suggest that this is only after the innovation or invention is complete. However, how many innovators or inventors develop something then look around for the market?  Even Henry Ford once candidly admitted that he had invented nothing new. He had ‘simply assembled into a car the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work’. Many times innovation comes from looking to another industry or sector for solutions. For example a research team at our own Grande Prairie Regional College is looking to micro algae for a solution to atmospheric pollutants.

Ridley is of the opinion that ‘Spillover of Ideas’  (the fact that others pinch your ideas) ‘is not an accident and tiresome drawback for the inventor, it is the whole point of the exercise.’ Ridley cites Romer’s New Growth Theory and suggests Romer saw that innovation itself was an item of investment, that new, applied knowledge was itself a product. So long as people who are spending money on trying to find new ideas can profit from them before they pass them on, then increasing returns are possible. For more information on Romer and The Growth Theory check out this article.

According to another article on the new growth theory, creativity is the main driver for economic development. I would go on to say that productivity is a result of and closely linked to creativity often disguised as innovation.

So thank you to all those innovators and inventors that have opened their innovations and inventions to all of us and in the spirit of the holiday season let’s all look to sharing our innovations so the spillover of ideas can benefit us all!


About Janet, doing it better.

I grew up and still reside in Northern Alberta. While I have numerous interests I am passionate about the Peace River region, its innovation, its people, and the creative spirit that envelopes us all.

Posted on December 21, 2011, in Business Productivity, innovation, innovator, inventor and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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