The substance of innovation is the intentional implementation of a new idea which leads to change in practice with the aim of creating some form of value. Hence, innovation can apply to any activity in any aspect of the economy or society. This broader perspective becomes clear in the case of the internet. The internet is dependent on a number of technological innovations, including computers, the web, software, smart phones, but stimulates widespread change in organization, methods, products etc. Although it has only been readily available for around 20 years, it has led to significant change in shopping, learning, working, social interaction and many other activities.
Innovation is a center piece of Australian government policy and it has gotten enthusiasm. Innovation in Australia is needed for some reasons. First, it is important to reiterate that innovation play important role in the modern economy. The competitive nature of the modern economy requires institutions to continually improve their services and business processes if they are to survive.
Second, innovation makes immediate sense in the corporate as well as government environment because of this competitive pressure. Doing the same thing over again just invites imitation and displacement. By its very simple definition of “doing new and better things”, innovation does not lend itself easily to rule-based procedures.
Third, innovation is inherently rule-breaking. Hence the myriad top ten tips for innovation are almost invariably pointless. Following other rules are not innovating. At a national level, establishing effective and enduring systems of research, development, engagement and commercialization remains a significant challenge.
The lessons is that innovation arises from an uncertain combination of creative minds, space to experiment and fail, modest financial support, a supportive environment, passion and risk-taking, in relatively small portions.
The current intense activity and hype in the start-up space is less about creating a new generation of billionaires, and more about realizing a new, intensive approach to the pursuit and capture of innovation.
In policy context, and even more importantly the political context, the meaning and role of innovation becomes far more problematic. Innovation is such a loose, umbrella concept that it can mean many different things to different people. More significantly, innovation is only ever a means to an end. New products, jobs, economic growth, profitability are the objectives from innovation. But too often innovation is treated as an end in its own right, implying that if it only change something – anything – life will be better.