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Invention and innovation: An introduction
Invention and innovation: An introduction

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5.4 Product champion

Throughout the development of this innovation Edison endeavoured, by means of persuasive argument and demonstrations of progress, to convince those people who were in a position to help further the success of the electric light that it had great potential. These people included financiers who could provide capital for more research and development, industrialists who might install it in their factories, and politicians who might agree to the large-scale city installation of a lighting system.

This is a key role in the development of any invention; it needs a product champion. This will be an individual or group committed to promoting the development of a certain product, process or system.

Usually such championing takes place in an institutional context where the champion is trying to persuade the organisation that it is worth investing in a particular new product, or is prepared to defend an innovative product from attack once the process of development is under way. Sometimes, however, this takes place outside an organisation, where a sympathetic supporter will promote the qualities of an invention to those who might be willing to finance its development. If no outside support is forthcoming, or if even more support is needed to give momentum to the innovation process, the original inventor will need to take on the additional role of champion, as did Edison.