Think of innovation in terms of constantly trying to find the best way to drink water out of your hands. Regardless of how well you can practice positioning your hands in such a way to minimize spillage, all your efforts will be obsolete the moment someone invents the cup.
Real innovation means reaching permanent solutions to problems rather than better patching them with temporary fixes. Therefore, innovators must focus on solving whole problems by creating new technologies rather than by expanding on existing ones.
New technologies are inspired by the demands of the real world — innovations arise to address new challenges as they’re observed. Attaching too much weight to a current technology limits its flexibility in development: If problem-solvers think inside the box in terms of facilities and patents, they may limit their imagination and lose opportunities.
So don’t think about technology solely as a way to address symptoms; think of it as a tool to be used to correct whole problems.
The Benefits of Paradigm-Shifting Technologies
Investors in technology may benefit in multiple ways beyond profit. For example, the technology you invest in may turn out to be a breakthrough that opens up a new market.
For instance, in cell engineering research, scientists are attempting to change the way a cell’s genetic sequence is configured to produce an artificial “desired cell.” Research on cell engineering has yet to enter the phase of human application, but the potential is significant.
With cell engineering, scientists may be able to model diseased or abnormal cells. Then, more can be learned about how cells behave, a tool that could have broader uses and applications, such as for developing new medicines. Here, it’s through invention and modeling — not simply incremental steps — that we progress. Every industry can (and should) replicate this kind of work toward creating a tool for others to use.
Work with biological hybrid microorganisms is another great example from my field because it’s near application. Producing a microorganism or adding abilities to an existing one might help solve problems that could take mankind countless efforts to achieve. For example, engineered bacteria could be produced to decompose unusable soil for cultivation or to turn non-potable water into good-quality drinking water.
Opportunities for the Investor
Because such discoveries could yield these broad applications, you — as the investor — could be lucky enough to become the founder of a new field within an industry. It takes true vision and commitment to innovation for you to place a stake in these breakthroughs, but the benefits could prove much richer than a simple return on investment.
This technological paradigm shift — in which advances hinge on wholesale innovation rather than incremental advances — isn’t about catching rain and letting all but a sip seep through our fingers. It’s about changing our approach altogether so we can forge new vessels that hold the weight of the ocean. For you, it’s a wide-open field of possibility.