Can the Collaborative Approach Help Sidestep Barriers to Innovation?

By February 15, 2013

Creativity, business development and innovation remained central concerns for companies in 2012. However, some of the barriers have grown slightly higher recently and are holding back innovation policies.


A massive 91% of all companies still regard innovation as one of their strategic priorities, according to a recently published study commissioned by GE, the GE Global Innovation Barometer 2013. The survey was carried out by global independent research company StrategyOne, which interviewed over 3,000 senior business executives by telephone. The survey focused on factors which encourage or discourage innovation in various markets across 25 countries. One of the findings was that overall, inter-company collaboration is a major cause for concern. Many of the executives interviewed argue that collaborating with other companies might well be the solution to innovation development but that more effort is needed on all fronts – from government, universities and potential company partners.

Obstacles to Innovation

“Business’ perceptions of their respective country’s policy environment have grown more negative in the majority of countries surveyed,” underlines a GE press release. The survey points to a drop in the overall perception in many countries that the government is doing a good job in promoting pro-innovation policies, with 50% of the executives polled identifying the better alignment of higher education with business as a pressing need and 81% putting this among their top four concerns. Only 55% of the 2012 respondents judged that the country’s universities and schools provide a “strong education model for tomorrow’s innovation leaders,” versus 61% who said this in 2011. This declining trend in perception was especially noticeable in South Korea and the same also holds true for China, Canada and Israel. Another brake on innovation: “41% believe restrictions on access to foreign talent (often reflected in the difficulty of obtaining a visa) is increasing and is having a negative impact on business’ ability to innovate,” says the GE summary.

New ideas needed to make progress

Even though innovation is currently going through a hard time in many countries, 87% of the senior executives polled were “confident that their firm could be more successful at innovating through partnership and collaboration”. Businesses in Mexico, Russia and the United Arab Emirates are more open from this viewpoint. In fact, access to new technologies and new markets are the main reasons for wishing to collaborate with other companies, according to 79% of the respondents. However, many barriers still persist: some 64% of those interviewed pointed to a “lack of confidentiality of IP protection as a deterrent, followed by trust (47%) and fear of their talent being poached.” Last but not least, ‘Big Data’ is seen as having an increasing role to play, with 52% of respondents considering that the key to business development success now lies in data mining, while some 60% say that their company’s ability to use data efficiently – to better understand customers and anticipate markets – will be crucial.


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