To ensure that the world keeps progressing, it is imperative for there to be inventions and innovations in the market. In the absence of these, there would be no new developments and the world would become stationary. When one checks the meaning of the two terms in a dictionary, they have almost the same meaning; however, the truth is that the two terms are actually quite distinct from one another. Invention refers to the creation of new products or services -those that are the first of their kind and have never been created before. On the other hand, innovation essentially refers to the improvements brought about in a product or service that is already present in the market.

It is important to determine the difference between invention and innovation. An analogy that can be used to differentiate the two is a pebble that is thrown in a pool of water. The pebble should be considered as an invention, while the ripple effect created in the water by the pebble is innovation. This article will define invention and innovation in more detail, and discuss the differences between the two.

Definitions and explanations


Invention refers to the development of a product or service for the very first time. A new product that has been invented is significantly different from its predecessor. It is a unique scientific idea that has been created following intensive research and experimentation.

Invention takes place when an individual comes up with a novel idea for a product or a process that is not present in the market. Hence, the inventor wants to ensure that the credits for the invention are given to them alone, which is why they obtain patents for their inventions. A patent would ensure that the intellectual property rights for the new product remain with the inventor.


Innovation is carried out when an individual is able to successfully convert an idea into an actual product or service. It refers to the changes brought about in a product or service that is already present in the market. These changes are usually believed to add value to the products or services so as to ensure that customer requirements are fulfilled.

An innovation often helps an invention that is not very popular to become a part of the mainstream by using it in an area where it was not originally supposed to be used. For instance, the first multi-touch screen technology was developed in 1982 to detect finger movement over a frosted glass panel with a camera. This simple interface was developed to enable multi-touch drawing. However, this technology did not become popular till it was used by Steve Jobs in the iPhone. Hence, Steve jobs brought about a repurposing of the multi-touch technology by applying it in an entirely different area, which is what is referred to as an innovation.

Therefore, innovations can be referred to as enhanced versions of a product or service that is already present in the market. Such enhancements usually include more features and incorporate latest technology. Majority of the innovations that are considered as revolutionary are actually an improvement of a technology that has already been invented. For example, consider the products launched by Steve Jobs under his visionary company, Apple. Jobs was believed to have created the greatest inventions of all times – iPhone, iPad and Mac. However, the truth is that these products were basically an improvements of their predecessors. For example, before the creation of the iPod, many portable music players were already present in the market. What Apple did was to incorporate the features of the different music players into a single device, and then connect it to a platform through which the device could be kept updated with music without any problems.

Differences between invention and innovation

1. Meaning

Invention refers to the development of something that is entirely new, and which has never been created before. On the other hand, innovation refers to the introduction of fresh ideas and technology to an already existing product or service. In other words, innovation makes use of an invention in a unique way to make it popular among the customers.

2. Skills required

An invention is brought about by someone who possess technical skills. On the other hand, innovation requires a range of strategic, technical and marketing skills.

3. Brought about by

Invention comes about when a scientist thinks of a new idea regarding a product or service. On the other hand, innovation comes about when a need for a unique product or service, or an improvement in an existing product or service is identified

4. Involves

Invention involves a single product, service or process, while innovation is a mix of different products, services or processes.

5. Carried out by

Invention is carried out by a scientist who comes up with a new idea, while innovation is carried out by an entrepreneur who identifies the need for a different product.

Invention vs innovation – tabular comparison

A tabular comparison of innovation and invention is given below:

Invention vs Innovation
Coming up with an idea, or developing a new product or service, that has not been created previously Bringing about changes or improvements in a product or service already present in the market, with the aim of adding value to it
Skills required
Technical skills Strategic, marketing and technical skills
Brought about by
A new idea comes in the mind of inventor A need for a distinct product or service, or enhancements in an existing product
Single product or service A mix of different products or services
Carried out by
Scientific Entrepreneur

Conclusion – innovation vs invention

Due to the high levels of competition in the market, a company can only survive when it thinks out of the box to create innovative products and services. However, this does not mean that innovation alone is important as an invention has to be made for innovation to take place. There has to be a product in the market that an innovator can work on.

It can be said that invention takes place when it has been shown that an idea is practical and viable. On the other hand, an innovation occurs not only when an idea is viable, but also when it is economically sustainable and is capable of fulfilling a particular need of the customers.