Global Innovation Barometer Identifies 21st Century Expectations
Feb 9, 2011
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GE released a report designed to map the innovation “landscape” in the 21st Century, and said it is placing extra emphasis on addressing local needs, marshaling the creativity of individuals and smaller organizations, and forging strategic partnerships.

The first GE Global Innovation Barometer, an independent survey of 1000 business
executives in 12 countries, was commissioned by GE and conducted by research and consulting firm StrategyOne to identify drivers and deterrents of innovation and to analyze perceptions around innovation challenges. GE’s said results show that the greatest innovations of our time will be those that help address human need, more so than those that simply create the most profit.

“This study illustrates that the rules around innovation are changing, and that companies, like
ours, will need to evolve our strategy in order to stay competitive, drive growth, and contribute
meaningfully to the economy,” said Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer and senior vice
president, GE. “For innovation to flourish, we must embrace a new innovation paradigm that
promotes collaboration between all players – big, small, public, and private - fosters creativity,
and emphasizes solutions that meet local needs.”

In the study
-95% of executives said innovation is the main lever for a more competitive national economy
-88% agreed that innovation is the best way to create jobs in their country

While the notion that innovation drives prosperity is not new, GE said the survey helps clarify the evolving definition of “prosperity.” 77% of executives said they believe the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be those that help address human needs, such as improving health quality or enhancing energy security, more than those that simply create profit. Specifically, in the next 10 years they see improvements in:
-health quality (87% of executives)
-environmental quality (85%)
-energy security (82%)
-access to education (81%)

The survey showed that the traditional path of innovation is changing, turning more to individuals and small- to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) and creating a greater need for collaboration.
-75% of respondents agreed that the way companies innovate in the 21st Century will be “totally different” than the way they innovated in the past.
-75% said that, more than ever, individuals and SMEs will be as innovative as large companies
-86% said that 21st Century innovation is about partnerships between several entities as opposed to the success of a single organization
-76% said that innovation must be tailored to local market needs

Other findings:
-69% said that innovation is now driven more by people’s creativity than by high-level scientific research
-58% agreed that having more “out-of-the-box” thinkers on the team is the No. 1 factor that would help companies innovate more.

When the survey asked executives to name the three countries they viewed as the leading innovation champions; they named:
-U.S. (67%)
-Germany (44%)
-Japan (43%)
-China (35%)

The survey also asked about the degree to which executives believed innovation would improve the lives of their countries’ citizens and the likelihood that the improvement would happen based on current conditions. None of the top four countries that were considered
innovation champions by their peers were optimistic about the power and prospect of innovation. China and Japan were designated “pessimists,” while the U.S. and Germany were designated “traditionalists,” falling in between optimism and pessimism.

GE said the paradox may be due to perceived barriers to innovation in specific countries. In China, for example, 56% of respondents cited the need for more financial support from public authorities. In Japan, 36% cited the need to work with universities and research labs for product development.

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