The Element(s) of Invention

Have you ever thought about the nature of “breakthrough inventions”? Those that transform the world with their social impact or disruptive influence on traditional industries? The journey from start to success can be a long one.

, Sales Director, Victrex,

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A technological invention can have a big impact on future generations of inventors and innovators as it inspires others to invent. More than a few influence both life and death – wonder drugs such as penicillin co- exist with nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that inventions have a huge impact on all of us. Every day! Whether we are aware of it or not.

If asked for an example of what you consider the five or ten greatest inventions of all time, what would be your answer? Some might immediately name their individual favourites, whilst others struggle to decide on just a few since there are so many!

It´s not getting any easier. If you take a moment to look at one of the numerous lists of amazing world- changing innovations – "10 Inventions That Changed the World" (1) or "Top 10 Inventions That Changed the World" (2), for example – which often mention the "big picture" items, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), penicillin, the wheel, and so on; the last 40 or 50 years have obviously seen an explosion of ingenious invention.

But what marks the start of an invention?
Admittedly, a pioneering invention can be the result of bare necessity or, let´s say, more or less utopian ideas. Many examples can be found in literature and movies. We remember the surveillance technologies George Orwell fears in his novel “1984”, written back in 1948, the menacing gadgets in Ian Fleming´s famous “James Bond” novels, or the flying cars and seemingly human robots ("replicants") of the sci-fi movie "Blade Runner".

Lots of technologies, when first published in literature, and maybe even some of those first discussed in technological or scientific papers, sound too futuristic or even unrealistic at the time they are first proposed. Some even sound far too unlikely to become part of "real life". But then they might come true in little or no time, often benefitting generations to come. Viewers of Blade Runner might be interested to know that Boeing tested a prototype flying car (3) very recently.

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It is exactly these creative, visionary ideas and the skills of their bright inventors, along with the charismatic and courageous people and companies who, with inexhaustible entrepreneurial spirit not only make them happen but develop and expand their future potential.

Nevertheless, to make even the most brilliant idea come true, there are at least three equally important ingredients that should be mentioned:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Need – the demand for "total" solutions that then drives megatrends – the smartphone is one very obvious example

We will focus on the material side of inventions, the discovery and invention of materials themselves, in one of our upcoming blog posts. For now, I am interested to learn what you consider to be the top inventions of all time! I would love to hear from you, so please drop me an email!

Sources:
1) https://www.geniusstuff.com/blogs/10-inventions-changed-world10.htm
2) https://www.livescience.com/33749-top-10-inventions-changed-world.html
3) https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/24/flying-cars-boeing-lifts-off-in-race-to-revolutionise-travel



© Victrex plc. 2019. All rights reserved.
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