Innovation!!

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Innovation is a new buzz word these days. Every company, every CEO is talking about innovation, knowledge economy and IPR, possibly without an inkling of what these terms mean. The very word conjures a several images in mind. Who can not think of Edison? The famous inventor of the light-bulb and a thousand odd inventions. Speaking of oddity, some of his inventions were considered queer in his time. Talk about an idea whose time had not come and you will hear about Edison’s concrete houses which never took off. His idea of low cost, fire-proof housing never caught on. Today we use pretty much the same principles to build our homes and sky scrapers. Take his electric car concept as another example. He envisaged a car that would run on batteries and would not need charging for at least a 100 miles. This was the 1900s when petra-oleum lived upto its name with rock bottom prices. There are reports of him inventing a phone to talk with spirits too (this has never been confirmed. We haven’t heard from Edison since he died!)

Why am I ranting about Edison and his inventions? Well, every invention has a story to tell. Every invention has something for us to learn from. Take Edison’s concrete housing for example. He envisaged a single mould into which concrete could be poured and cured to form a house. What was wrong with the idea? Nothing really. It was good. Cost effective and fire-proof. The moulding equipment was costly and few builders had the capital to invest. Image was an issue. Families did not want to move into homes with the ‘cheap’ tag (something like what the Tata Nano marketing faced). Then again his electric car. Fuel was much cheaper than running a battery operated car then. But his resultant research into alkaline batteries progressed far ahead of his time.

 

Needless to say, mere protection of your invention does not guarantee returns. A number of factors have to be taken into account before going ahead with the option of patent protection for example. The image below sums it up very well. There is no time for an idea to come. Ideas will come and go. We have to create that time. The articles that will follow will delve into these very details.

 

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