ArticleSouth Korea

Innovation : High and Low

Innovation is a simple word, yet hard to define. If we try to search the definition of innovation, we would find that most results are talking about business, entrepreneurship or economy. Even though we know that innovation is not merely associated with money or profit, those results say that innovation is significant to foster economy-related things.

Let us take our memory back to the year of 2013. Nokia, once the largest cellphones vendor in the world, sold its Devices and Services Unit to Microsoft because they cannot sell enough cellphones to hold its cash flow. Nokia knocked down by Samsung and Apple as the market turn their taste to smartphone. World are praising Samsung and Apple’s innovative products while blaming Nokia’s executives for being late in responding his competitor’s moves.

Maybe, we are also remembering about a viral Indonesian article talking about the fall of Japanese Firms entitled “The Death of Samurai: The Collapse of Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, and Sanyo.”  The article explains three factors that were choking those firms’ breath of innovation causing them losing to Chinese and Korean electronic product.

These phenomena show that innovation is a decisive factor in winning business and economic competition. If innovation is really that important, then what exactly is innovation? As I mention above, it’s hard to define innovation. OECD, when trying to define the meaning of innovation, quotes a non-limiting definition.  It writes “Innovation goes far beyond R&D. It goes far beyond the confines of research labs to users, suppliers and consumers everywhere – in government, business and non-profit organizations, across borders, across sectors, and across institutions”.

Though there are no exact definitions of innovation, we can still measure it. Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are collaborating to produce the Global Innovation Index. Bloomberg also has its own version of innovation index. Both have different aspects in measuring innovation such as institutions, research and development, market sophistication, infrastructure, knowledge and technology outputs, creative outputs, productivity, tertiary efficiency, and so on. These indexes are actually helping us to see how innovative we are and which way should we take to increase our innovation activity.

The fallen of world’s giant business, non-limiting definition of innovation from OECD, and innovation index teach us a crucial thing about innovation. We cannot foster innovation alone. We need cooperation and collaboration from other entity to turn idea into innovation. Every country, every institution, business, society, anyone who cares, can take part in fostering innovation, including you. But we cannot works alone. We need to stand up together and help each other to make innovation flourish.


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