What is innovation?

Dynamic. Exhilarating. Crucial to economic growth.

Today, innovation is a word that excites, inspires and unites.

But things haven't always been this way.

 

in-

-novus

Innovation in its current form stems from two Latin words: 'in' and 'novus'. This translates as 'into new', suggesting renewal or change.

Where it all began

Death to innovators

In the 16th Century, being labelled as an innovator carried the death sentence.

At this time, the word held hugely negative connotations. It was associated with undesirable changes, such as the rewriting of religious texts, an activity outlawed by the Church and monarchs seeking to maintain influence over the masses.

Shouts of 'innovator!' were used to accuse of plotting and heresy. Those tried as innovators were often burnt at the stake.

 
 

The word begins to change

At the turn of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century, the meaning of 'innovation' began to change.

With the advent of mechanisation and rapidly  improving life expectancies, innovation began to become associated with the invention of new devices and methods that were changing lives for the better.

 

New attitudes from Government

As economic growth accelerated, the UK Government began to emphasise research labs and patents as a source of economic advantage.

Now seen as developers to the nation, innovators became praised as positive contributors to society. Change, once deemed frightening, began to be seen as exciting.