Here are some useful definitions to enrich your understanding of the world, business and terminologies of innovations. It is a growing list and we welcome your contributions to this resource pool. Gain the knowledge and understanding that is required to be competitive in the economy of the future and impact the world.


Oxford dictionary

  • The introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something.
  • A new idea, way of doing something, etc. that has been introduced or discovered


  • Innovation can be defined simply as a “new idea, device or method”. However, innovation is often also viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs.

Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development

  • Production or adoption, assimilation, and exploitation of a value-added novelty in economic and social spheres; renewal and enlargement of products, services, and markets; development of new methods of production; and establishment of new management systems. It is both a process and an outcome.

Grassroots Innovation


  • Grassroots innovation is a diverse set of activities in which networks of neighbours, community groups, and activists work with people to generate bottom-up solutions for sustainable developments; novel solutions that respond to the local situation and the interests and values of the communities involved; and where those communities have control over the process and outcomes.
  • (Seyfang & Smith 2007; Gupta et al. 2003)


  • Grassroots innovation is defined as innovative product or process created at the bottom of the pyramid, usually due to necessity, hardship and challenges.


  • Grassroots innovations are community-led solutions for sustainability. They can offer promising new ideas and practices, but often struggle to scale up and spread beyond small niches.



  • Consists of all of the decisions, activities, and their impacts that occur from recognition of a need or a problem, through research, development and commercialization of an innovation, through diffusion and adoption of the innovation by users, to its consequences. ….which corresponds roughly to the process of knowledge transfer
    By Rogers. E.M.
  • Models of knowledge transfer: clinical perspectives.


  • Carnegie Mellon University
    • Commercialization is a process of connected steps to bring a product to market. Progressive commercialization techniques embrace integration, concurrence, and/or overlap with the development process to ensure proper downstream execution.
  • By James F. Jordan
    • Innovation, Commercialization, and the Successful Startup



  • Social innovation is the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress.
  • A novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals.

By James A. Phills Jr., Kriss Deiglmeier, & Dale T. Miller Rediscovering Social Innovation


  • Innovative activities and services that are motivated by the goal of meeting a social need and that are predominately developed and diffused through organizations whose primary purposes are social.


  • Social innovations are new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet the social needs of different elements which can be from working conditions and education to community development and health — they extend and strengthen civil society.


Global Research Alliance

  • Any innovation that leads to affordable access of quality goods and services creating livelihood opportunities for the excluded population, primarily at the base of the pyramid, and on a long term sustainable basis with a significant outreach – By R.A. Mashelkar



  • Zizhu chuangxin (Chinese: 自主创新; pinyin: zìzhǔ chuàngxīn; literally: “endogenous and/or indigenous innovation”) is a term frequently used in China by the Chinese government, academics, and businesses to describe the Chinesetechnology-led economic transformation in the past decades.
  • So far academics in China have not come to any conclusions on the appropriate English translation of the term, however, most popular translations include but not limited to the followings:
  • (1) Endogenous Innovation (from neo-classical economics perspective, also from growth theory);
  • (2) Indigenous Innovation (from evolutionary economics, resource based view perspectives);
  • (3) Others including ‘Self-reliant Innovation’; ‘Self-determined Innovation’; ‘Self-oriented Innovation’; ‘Self-directed Innovation’; and ‘Independent Innovation’.
  • However, the Chinese term remains the same ‘自主创新’ and has become one of the core concepts of Chinese economic reform.


  • Social enterprise refers to an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders. Social enterprises can be structured as a for-profit or non-profit, and may take the form of a co-operative, mutual organization, a disregarded entity, a social business, or a charitable organization.


  • Original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective. Can include prototypes and pilot plant.


  • Beta testing of a new-to-the-world product includes a limited group of users outside of the company. The twin aims of the Beta test are to do a sanity test and to get customer feedback on how the product is used and works in the real world.


  • Coming up with as many ideas or solutions possible for the situation, singly or in a group.


  • Experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.


  • The point at which revenues exceed expenses.


  • Business model converts innovation to economic value for the business and conceptualizes the value proposition that distinguishes a firm from its competitors.  It draws on a multitude of business subjects including entrepreneurship, strategy, economics, finance, operations, and marketing, and spells-out how a company generates revenue.


  • People or organizations working together to realize and achieve shared goals, by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group. In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition.


  • A demonstration, conducted following technology demonstration, aimed at proving that a product or process could proceed to commercial deployment


  • The condition under which a product or process can be profitably deployed by commercial enterprises regardless of whether public subsidies are involved


  • The process of taking a product or process form early to commercial deployment


  • An abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances


  • Creativity is  an act of making something new. It is a mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts


  • Demand pull refers to market environments or emerging needs which incentivise innovative products or processes. It can refer either to emerging market opportunities or public sector policies and measures, including subsidies, designed to promote innovation. It is often linked to or used in dichotomy with technology push.


  • The use of a product or process for practical and/or commercial purposes.


  • Widespread uptake of a product or process throughout the market of potential adopters
  • Early deployment The early use of a product or process for practical and/or commercial purposes.


  • Payments received in direct exchange for a product, service or privilege. [Earned income for a nonprofit includes such elements as tuition and fees for service, commercial products or services, government contracts, consulting fees, membership dues (when dues purchase tangible benefits), sale of intellectual property, agreement to use the nonprofit’s identity, property rentals, etc. Earned income does not include such sources as corporate, foundation or government grants or subsidies, contributions from individuals, or in-kind donation of products or services.]


  • An activity that demonstrates the viability of a product or process


  • A formulated thought or opinion


  • An improvement in performance, cost, reliability, design etc. to an existing commercial product or process without any fundamental novelty in end-use service provision


New products and processes and significant technological improvements in products and processes. An innovation has taken place if it has been introduced on the market (product innovation) or used within a production process (process innovation).

Depending on context, products and processes can be new or improved anywhere in the world, or new or improved in relation to a firm, a market or a country. It is a process or outcome that must meet two criteria. The first criterion is novelty: Although innovations need not necessarily be original, they must be new to the user, context, or application. The second criterion is improvement.


  • The concept of innovation management encompasses an integrated approach to managing all dimensions of innovation, from innovation in products, services and business processes to organisational and business models, through continuous monitoring, development and improvement processes.


  • A formal process by which an insight growth can be recorded from an idea, concept, project, to a product on market.


  • The platform innovation is defined as one that leads to the practical application of fundamental innovations. Such innovations normally are launching pads for a new industry. Examples of platform innovations include personal computers, silicon chips, cell phones, digital printers, operating systems, databases, drug delivery devices, satellites and the space shuttle. The platform component increases the portion of the laboratory or development component more so than do fundamental innovations. Platform innovations launch industries and change ways of life.


  • The system of actors, institutions, networks and processes that result in innovation taking place. Covers research, development, demonstration and commercial activities leading to deployment. Can be used in reference to countries, sectors or technologies. Formally, covers processes that lead to early deployment but can also be used in an extended sense to include processes leading to commercial or full-scale deployment.


  • One who is trained in the art and science of brainstorming to deliver sudden, exciting relevant ideas.


  • Intellectual property (IP) refers to intangible assets resulting from the creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.
  • Intellectual property can be protected by formal or informal methods. Formal protection consists in granting to the owners exclusive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) under intellectual property law. Informal protection consists in methods like secrecy, confidentiality, defensive publishing, fast innovation cycle etc
  • Intellectual property rights are divided into two categories: industrial property, which includes inventions, trademarks, industrial design, and geographical indications of source; and copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, films, musical works, paintings, photographs, and architectural designs.
  • The majority of intellectual property rights provide creators of original works economic incentive to develop and share ideas through a form of temporary monopoly.


  • Questions that help you discover and invent new things


  • A new scientific or technical idea, and the means of its embodiment or accomplishment.
  • To be patentable, an invention must be novel, have utility, and be non-obvious.


  • Activities designed to create, enhance, or exploit niche markets and the early commercialisation of technologies in wider markets


  • The interval of time during which a particular type of product can be profitably sold.


  • In manufacturing and design, a mockup, or mock-up, is a scale or full-size model of a design or device, used for teaching, demonstration, design evaluation, promotion, and other purposes. A mockup is called a prototype if it provides at least part of the functionality of a system and enables testing of a design.


  • Application of a product or process in a limited market setting (or niche) based on a specific relative performance advantage (or on public policy incentives) and typically not exposed to full market competition


  • The emerging paradigm for innovation, involving business models that use partnering, licensing and venturing to combine internal and external sources of ideas and technologies.


  • Process management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, techniques and systems to define and improve processes, in order to meet customer requirements profitably.


  • A thing produced by labor or effort or the result of an act or a process.


  • A collaborative enterprise, frequently involving research or design, that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.


  • An original model constructed to include all the technical characteristics and performances of a new product or process. It is a rough example or an otherwise incomplete version of a conceivable product or future system, put together as proof of concept with the primary purpose of showcasing the possible applications


  • A new product or process that strongly deviates from prevailing norms and so often entails a disruptive change over existing commercial technologies and associated institutions


  • Creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society


  • Traditionally, rich nations have developed innovations and transferred them to developing nations. Reverse innovation is the opposite; i.e. innovating in developing nations (for example, India, Africa, etc) and bringing those products to rich nations. Reverse innovation has increased in importance as high growth is increasingly occurring in developing nations like China.


  • An organization or venture that achieves its primary social or environmental mission using business methods.  Social enterprises harness the power of the marketplace to solve critical social and environmental problems.


  • A mission-based business and includes any organization or venture that advances its social mission through entrepreneurial earned income strategies.


  • Acts as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches and creating sustainable solutions to change society for the better. However, unlike business entrepreneurs who are motivated by profits, social entrepreneurs are motivated to improve society. Despite this difference, social entrepreneurs are just as innovative and change-oriented as their business counterparts, searching for new and better ways to solve the problems that plague society.


  • The art of persistently and creatively leveraging resources to capitalize upon marketplace opportunities in order to achieve sustainable social change.


  • A novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals.


  • A new business, at the earliest stages of development and financing.


  • Generating and validating ideas in a repeatable and more predictable way. As a process, innovation can be systematized to bring unprecedented efficiencies and ROI to idea generation, research, problem solving, market and technology landscaping.


  • Technology push is the process of pushing a technology on to the market through RD&D or production and sales functions. It can refer either to firm activities or to public sector policies and measures designed to promote innovation. It is often linked to or used in dichotomy with demand pull


  • Stands for the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving; method of innovation developed in Russia by Genrich Altschuller.


  • Money used to support new or unusual business ventures that exhibit above-average growth rates, significant potential for market expansion and are in need of additional financing to sustain growth or further research and development; equity or venture financing traditionally provided at the commercialization stage, increasingly available prior to commercialization.


  • An entrepreneur building a high-risk-high-return venture around a new-to-the-world product or service.