The Motivation To Innovate by Smart Idea Store


Find out what drives inventors to develop new technology and which type of motivation or combination of motivations best describe you.


The reasons behind you have decided to be an inventor should be given some serious consideration before you start looking for opportunities to innovate.  Your motivation will determine what technology and markets will be of most interest to you and how much involvement you want to take in the development, commercialisation and the potential establishment of a company to manage both of these stages.

For example, if you are interested in science for the sake of science, you will probably not want to be involved in the business aspects of turning your ideas into sellable products.  This can be handled by others who are more commercially motivated whilst, at the same time, frees up your time to go back to thinking about your ideas.

However, if you were commercially motivated then you may want to be the key decision maker at every stage of the development and commercialisation.  The timelines involved in turning an idea into a successful business and the demands on your time and resources, will probably mean that you do not have the time or the inclination to  consider having or developing any subsequent ideas.

Have a read of the following articles and see what motivation or combination of motivations best describes your situation.  This can determine where you should focus your attention, your creative thought process and what type of project partners you want to associate yourself with further down the line.



This is innovation that is driven by a need for knowledge and understanding and subsequently develops into technology.  It is also known as Disinterested Research or Disinterested Science as it focuses on explaining scientific and technical phenomena for the purposes of furthering our understanding of science and technology without necessarily looking to exploit the resultant knowledge.  Another name would be Pure Research.  The conversion of knowledge into technology may not be generated directly from the Scientists who made the original discovery.  This is often made by inventors that see potential applications for new knowledge or technology.  It conveniently describes the differences between scientists who discover new knowledge, inventors who find applications for this knowledge and engineers who adopt the application. A scientist or an engineer can be an inventor but an inventor does not need to necessarily have a scientific or technical background.

The Stages of Disinterested Science

  1. Scientists or technologists make a discovery
  2. Inventor applies discovery to solve problem or improve quality of life
  3. Technology is taken up by customers

Examples of Disinterested Science

Joseph Priestley - Laughing Gas

Albert EinsteinLasers

Wilhelm RöntgenX-Rays



When you identify issues with existing technology and cannot find a suitable solution this creates an opportunity to improve functionality, reduce cost, improve efficiency or reduce risk.  Improving existing technology is sometimes called ‘iterative innovation’ or ‘constructive discontentment’.

This motivation may arise with technology you use at work or in your personal life, whether through a hobby or lifestyle choice.

For example, having young children may identify opportunities to improve child car seats, clothing or bottle warmers.

The Stages of Improving Existing Technology

  1. Identify failings or opportunities to improve existing technology
  2. Develop technology to solve failings or improve user satisfaction
  3. Sell technology to customers

Examples of Improving Existing Technology

Dyson Vacuum Cleaner

Blu-Ray DVD



The overriding purpose for some inventors is to help others; this could be done in several ways depending on how the inventors want to make their innovation available.

The Stages of Philanthropic Innovation

The intellectual property could be protected by the inventor and licensed or assigned to specific companies with similar beliefs to the inventor.

The other option is simply to publish the innovation, which means nobody can claim a monopoly on the commercial opportunity and that it is an open market.  The downside of this situation is that there is no control and large commercial companies could get in on the market.

A good example of this situation is the development of a new drug; normally a patent is applied for to protect the chemical structure or pharmacological interaction.  This is due to the fact that pharmaceutical companies are commercially driven and the cost of developing drugs.  However, there may be some markets, such as third world countries, that cannot possibly afford the medication that they ideally would prescribe.

However, if the drug could not be patented then the drug would be generic, which means widely manufactured and sold by any company who wants to sell the drug, and there is the possibility that third world countries might be able to afford it or that charities supplying medication in these countries would think the cost benefit from such a drug is worth purchasing and distributing widely.


Commercial Desire

The desire to make money is normally only one of several motivations to innovate but it can be a very strong motivator in some people.

This would mean that commercially driven inventors spend more time than other types of inventor researching markets, particularly markets that they are not familiar with, looking for a lucrative opportunity.

This may require more time spent learning about different market opportunities and speaking with experts in a variety of markets to find the best opportunity. This can often be a large dedicated market for a disposable product such as chewing gum, food and drink packaging or medical equipment, where the need to reduce cross-infection has driven a desire for disposable medical products.

Stages of Commercial Desire

  1. Identifying market opportunities
  2. Evaluating market requirements
  3. Developing technology that meets the market requirements

Examples of Commercial Desire

King Camp GilletteThe Disposable Razor Blade


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