CLEVELAND—Disruptive innovation—the kind of innovation that creates markets and changes economies—is crucial to the survival of any industry, including rubber chemistry, according to the keynote speaker at the ACS Rubber Division's International Elastomer Conference and Rubber Expo at the Cleveland Convention Center.
“Innovation creates new opportunities, new jobs, new values, and new markets,” Thomas M. Connelly Jr., executive director and CEO of the American Chemical Society, said in an Oct. 13 speech that opened the three-day conference and trade show.
“Disruptive innovation is occurring more rapidly than at any time in our nation's history,” Connelly said.
Many factors can drive disruptive innovation, according to Connelly. These can include shifts in the age, location or ethnicity of populations; the price and availability of raw materials; and new needs that changes or problems in the society can create, he said.
“Where there are problem areas, there are also opportunities for innovation,” he said.
Connelly quoted Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen as saying, “Disruptive technologies typically enable new markets to emerge.”
The Japanese, he said, have an interesting concept, “seeds and needs.” The concept considers whether the seed of an idea creates a new need, or a new need creates the idea.
“There are plenty of examples to support both sides, but I like to start from the marketplace,” Connelly said.
There is an essential difference between invention and innovation, according to Connelly. Whereas invention converts the cash of investors into ideas made manifest, innovation seeks new applications for existing technologies or situations.
“Innovation can only occur in the marketplace,” he said. “It converts ideas into cash when applied successfully.”