Is innovation just a matter of time?


Scientific advisory board of H&PC Today – Household and Personal Care Today (TKS Publisher)


History has shown that the inconceivable has become reality. The time gap ranged from a few years to generations, but it has happened. There are then reasons to hope that the present standstill in innovation in surfactants will be broken at some time in the future. It may be just a question of time.

Several times in these columns I have addressed the subject of innovation, often with open criticism. But let me be clear on one thing: I am not against innovation. I would like to think that I do not belong to the category of people that in the past said:


  • This ‘telephone” has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication (Western Union, internal memo, 1878)
  • Heavier than air flying machines are impossible (Lord Kevin, president, Royal Society, 1895)
  • The wireless music box (the radio, ndr) has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular? (David Samoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio, 1920)
  • I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers (Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943)
  • There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home (Ken Olsen, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment)
  • 640 K ought to be enough computer memory for anyone (Bill Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft).


I repeat, I am not against innovation, but I ...