On Innovation

On LillyPad, we talk a lot about innovation, but what does innovation really mean? 

As Rana Foroohar pointed out at a recent ITIF event, innovation can be a rather nebulous term. Coming up with a consensus on how to approach, sustain, and promote innovation requires a way to define and discuss the broad scope of innovative industries and outputs. 

Innovation is not creativity. Innovation is creative. 

As Thomas Edison once said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Creativity results in new ideas, but innovation brings those ideas to life. Whether the innovative outputs come from big companies or small groups of individuals, the development of knowledge-based and creative industries requires a strong intellectual property framework. 

Innovation is not easy. Innovation is a risk. 

Producing ground-breaking advances often involves the highest level of risk-taking. Innovation is not only difficult, but expensive. Over the last 15 years, Lilly alone has invested $50 billion in research and development. However, for every 10,000 molecules discovered, only one is typically approved for patient treatment. Innovation requires taking calculated risks to ensure that the high cost and high risk of innovation bring great reward to patients in the form of new, vital medicines. 

Innovation is not a nicety. Innovation is a necessity. 

Innovation acts as a primary driver of U.S. economic growth and national competitiveness. Without policies that support innovation and the development of a highly-skilled workforce, America cannot continue to maintain its dominance in the global marketplace. 

By nature, innovation springs from a variety of places, and in innumerable ways. While this broad scope presents difficulties around discussions on the best policies to promote innovation, continued dialogue can help meet these challenges in productive ways.