Innovation - What is it and what drives it?

Author: Paul Smargiassi   Date Posted:18 November 2016 

We've been told that to survive in the fast changing economic landscape and maintain our current living standards we must become the "Innovation Nation". Don't get me wrong I'm as excited as the prime minister about the future and the possibilities that lie ahead but aren't we already innovative? Haven't we being innovating right up to the prime ministerial decree? If we haven't been what have we doing? And if what we've been doing isn't innovation what have we being doing as a nation? 

To be able to get an answer to these questions you need to go back a step or two and first get an understanding of what innovation is and what drives it. Is innovation problem solving or is it more than that?

What drives innovation?

Necessity - One of my father’s favourite saying was “Necessity is the mother of all invention." There certainly has been enormous amount of innovation in and around the fundamental staples of life such as shelter and food. I was only talking to a local farming machinery distributor the other day and who said that that they will soon have available a driverless tractor. That is along way from the ox and plough.

Defense (war) - It’s sad to think that we are seem to be at our most innovative when we are waging war against each other. The Internet itself was born from a USA defense project.

Exploration – Travel to the nether regions of land, oceans and space have pushed the boundaries of our understanding of science and technology and there have been some astounding innovations along the way.

Transport - The ability to move ourselves and goods around with increasing speed and volume. Steam engine, internal combustion engine, jet engine and rocket engines (both a direct result of wartime research) ha

Trade and finance - The invention of currency was an enormous step forward in the evolution of trade etc.

Scarcity - Having less means we must be more inventive and innovative with what we have.

Curiosity - Just plain curiosity has led to many innovations.

 

I asked our local scribe Adam Norris to delve deeper into these questions and pose possible answers. You can read the result of research and musings here. It’s a great read.


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