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Rights: © Copyright 2013. University of Waikato. All rights reserved.
Published 23 May 2013 Referencing Hub media

Alistair Mowat of ZESPRI perceives innovation as a process of developing solutions to address needs and opportunities of consumers. Alistair discusses how the role of an innovator differs from that of an inventor.

Jargon alert

End user: The consumer who will ultimately use the product or process that is being developed.

Follow-up activities

  • To further explore the difference between inventions and innovations, try the activity Invention or innovation?
  • Explore a range of innovation stories and discuss whether each one fits the description of an invention or an innovation. Do any of the products or processes described have components of both an invention and an innovation? Discuss why.


Alistair Mowat

From my perspective, innovation is very much around a consumer or someone who has got an issue and they’re looking for a product or service or way of dealing with that situation or issue or opportunity. And so the role of the innovator is very much focused on an end user.

In contrast, an inventor often is very much more heavily focused around the person themselves, and often they tend to move into a shed or move into a lab and lock themselves away for a period and then come out with this fantastic idea that’s generated totally from their own resources. So innovation is very much end-user focused and then pulling together a diverse range of people with skills to realise that solution that the end user is looking for.

Dr Martin Markotsis, SCION
Alistair Mowat, ZESPRI
Fairfax Media/The Dominion Post
Marguerite Hill
Martin Jetpack