Innovation being limited due to difficulties accessing finance

Posted on 18 Jan 2012 by Tim Brown

GE today released the results of its second annual Global  Innovation Barometer which confirmed business executives’ believe in the importance of innovation for prosperity but revealed how uncertain economic environments are hindering companies’ ability to deliver meaningful innovation.

From interviews with the 2,800 senior business executives across 22 countries, nine out of 10 executives reported increased difficulty accessing external funding or a  conservative shift in appetite for risk. Specifically, 88 percent of respondents saw increased challenges  accessing venture capital, private investment and government funding, while 77 percent reported a  reduction or reevaluation of the company’s willingness to take risks.

“This year’s study confirms a lot of what we’ve been seeing in the global marketplace, that the uncertainties  inherent in today’s economic environment are challenging business’ ability to innovate,” said Beth Comstock,  senior vice president and chief marketing officer of GE.

“We see these results, in some ways, as a rallying cry for business leaders to understand where and how their innovation strategies are being challenged and to  drive towards new models,” she said. “Innovation is a powerful lever to address the challenges of a growing world. It allows us to use resources more efficiently, produce more with less and deliver better technologies to help  markets drive economic growth and better quality of life.”

By comparing survey results to external economic data, the report also indicates that countries where innovation policies are perceived as more competitive actually delivered more growth than those countries whose policy frameworks are perceived by executives as less competitive.

Executives in Israel, United Arab Emirates, Sweden and Singapore reported the highest levels of  satisfaction with their country’s innovation environment, while Japan, Russia, Poland and France  reported the lowest satisfaction levels.  Despite Japan’s negative view of its own country’s innovation policy environment, it was  again ranked by global business leaders as the third most innovative in the world, right after the US  and Germany, and ahead of China.

UK businesses perceive the local innovation environment as unfavourable with the fifth lowest score behind countries including Brazil, India, Algeria, US and Germany. Despite that 85% of UK respondents reported that the innovative potential of SMEs and individuals was well harnessed, in line with countries including Israel and the US.