Innovation is the process of improving existing processes, tools or products. The result of research and development is hopefully innovation, although it could also be invention. Innovation is discovery and improvement. It is the fuel that drives competitiveness in manufacture, and in other industries. Companies that don’t innovate are subject to falling behind their competitors.
Innovation is a core value of certain advertising agencies, and other digital businesses. An entire value proposition can be constructed from the hope of innovating in a market or industry segment. Innovation often leads to disruption. The result of innovation, sometimes, is the paradigm shift that forces an entire industry adapt to newly found practices.
Invention is the creation of new things, products and services. A new scientific instrument is invented. A process is invented; whereas innovation is hopefully a property of the new product or tool.
Internet was invented. The assembly line, as well as any machine or process, was also invented. All the tools and fruits of the industrial and digital revolutions have been inventions, in the very beginning. Inventing is closely tied with manufacture: an idea is not invented, it is the resulting tool or machine that is invented. Inventing can be a job: design of new things is by definition invention.
The two are similar and related. Innovation often leads to inventions. An invention without innovation is usually less market-competitive than otherwise. They are, however, different concepts. It is possible to invent a machine without being innovative. And if an innovation is not implemented, it can be left without the corresponding inventions.