Here’s a nice definition of innovation I came across:

“using something new, or something known, but in a different way, different time or a different place”

But here’s another truism:

“Innovation: It’s something everyone is in favor of, everyone likes the idea of, yet no one really understands it.”

(The former comes from Lady Barbara Judge, a UK official, and the latter from a Wharton law and business ethics professor named Kevin Werbach, from a recent economic summit.)

As we keep going further in our reporting quest looking at innovation, I want to keep disclaiming a couple of things. I know innovation is a buzzword. I know it’s often used superficially. I know there’s no one sector where innovation – a spirit, a principle, not a product or end in itself – lives exclusively.

And I know the questions we’re asking seem nebulous: What barriers exist to discovery? What could stymie innovations in San Diego?

But I like diving into nebulae and finding an individual particle of dust to feature one day, and another the next, with hopes of getting a better idea of the whole.

The stories we’re already learning – about the history of San Diego’s public support of science and technology, what made exploration possible here – and the conversations about what’s happening now are really exciting. Thanks to all of you who’ve already shared your questions and ideas. Stay tuned. And please call me out when you think I’m missing something or further muddying the concept.

This is part of our Quest to find out more about the innovation economy in San Diego. Here’s a good overview of what we wanted to find out, and check out these highlights from the series.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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