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Innovation is a very large topic covering all domains of activity. Scientific publications on innovation are numerous and address mostly technological innovation, product design, medical equipments including surgery robots, augmented human, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, chemistry and environmental concern such as intelligent building, energy and water consumption, but also organizational, social and economic innovation. Smart home, smart city and smarter planet, ambient intelligence, connected objects, biomimicry, entertainment and others are technology-based.

We can still notice confusion between research and development (R&D) and innovation. Most of persons in charge of R&D renamed recently their position to “Chief Innovation Officer.” But what innovation really is?


The amplified interest for innovation and extension of its spectrum into multidisciplinary dimensions enriched traditional definitions “from idea to products and to market” (Dubuis, 2007). However, those of Schumpeter (1912), remain still among the most complete. In his theory of economic evolution Schumpeter specifies that “innovation meets five main criteria: the manufacture of a new good, introduction of a new production method or of new means of transportation, implementation of a new organization, opening a new market and the conquest of a new source of raw materials.”

According to OECD references such as Oslo Manual and Frascati Manual “innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations.”

They consider innovation as a “complex, diversified activity with many interacting components. Successful innovation requires involvement of scientific, technological, organizational, financial and commercial actors” (Oslo Manual, 1996; Frascati Manual, 2002). This definition fits well to industrial era, but what is an appropriate definition for transition era we are living and for Knowledge Era?

There are as much as definitions as fields concerned by innovation. According to The Webster’s New World Dictionary (Second College Edition, 1982),

Invention is the power of inventing or being invented; ingenuity or creativity; something originating in an experiment; and

Innovation is the act or process of innovating; something newly introduced, new method, custom, device, etc.; change in the way of doing things; renew, alter.

More definitions can be found in Entovation International (1998). All these definitions express the various points of view.

Finally, innovation can be seen as trajectory from idea to product, from idea to market or from idea to success (Amidon, 1997) and sustainable success (Mercier-Laurent, 2011).

Amidon’s (1997) definition embodies a holistic vision of it influence on world welfare:

“Creation, evolution, exchange and application of new ideas into marketable goods and services for:

  • • the success of an enterprise;
  • • the vitality of a nation’s economy;
  • • the advancement of society.”

Overall image of innovation needs to be seen from different perspectives.

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