Survey: Europeans most innovative but downbeat

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European countries retain the best reputation amongst their global rivals as champions of innovation, but businesses tend to be less bullish about their home states, according to the latest global innovation survey.

The ‘Innovation Barometer’ found that four of the five European countries included in the survey of 22 nations came in the top 10 when all were asked to rate the leading innovation champions.

Germany took second place – pipped by the US – with the UK, France, and Sweden bagging seventh, eighth and ninth spots respectively.

Italy came 11th, whilst Poland, the final EU member state in the survey, remained unrated.

However, when businesses in the same survey countries were asked how satisfied they were with the innovation environment within their home nations, Poland, France, the UK and Germany were the third, fourth, fifth and eighth most pessimistic, respectively.

The Innovation Barometer was commissioned by US-based General Electric and conducted by consulting firm StrategyOne. 

Financial crisis corroding business confidence in innovation

The survey found that the global financial crisis is eating into business confidence in innovation. Nine out of 10 executives in the survey reported increased difficulty accessing external funding or a decrease in appetite for risk.

The study polled 2,800 senior business executives in 22 countries, all with direct involvement in their companies’ innovation strategy and decision making. The survey was conducted between 15 October and 15 November.

The vast majority (92%) of executives said innovation is the main ingredient for a more competitive national economy, and 86% agreed that innovation is the best way to create jobs in their country.

Executives in Israel, United Arab Emirates, Sweden and Singapore reported the highest levels of satisfaction with their country’s innovation environment.

“Innovation is a powerful lever that markets can use to drive economic growth and better quality of life for citizens,” said Beth Comstock, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of GE. “It is innovation that allows us to use resources more efficiently, produce more with less and deliver better solutions to the challenges of a growing world. The current global economic and political environment is creating challenges for innovators that must be addressed.”

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