GE’S ‘Global Innovation Barometer’ report reveals innovation as key economic driver in Saudi Arabia and UAE

GE’S ‘Global Innovation Barometer’ report reveals innovation as key economic driver in Saudi Arabia and UAE

January 27, 2011 at 09:01am
Innovation Barometer

GE recently commissioned a report to identify drivers and deterrents of innovation and analyze perceptions around innovation challenges. Research and consulting was conducted by StrategyOne who interviewed 1,000 senior business executives across 12 countries between December 10, 2010 and January 14, 2011.

Released today, the report outlines a new landscape for innovation in the 21st century, placing an increased premium on addressing local needs, marshaling the creativity of individuals and smaller organizations, and forging strategic partnerships. According to the interviewees, the greatest innovations of our time will be those that help address human need, more so than those that simply create the most profit.

An overwhelming majority of respondents in Saudi Arabia and the UAE – the two countries selected from the Arab world for the research – underscored the importance of innovation as the main lever for a greener national economy. The two countries lead the ranking in Innovation Optimism Index, which evaluates how innovation can improve citizens’ lives. Saudi Arabia ranks highest in the Innovation Optimism Index at 88, followed by UAE at 86 while the average of the 12 countries is 75, underscoring the increasing appreciation in the Arab world on the value of innovation for its positive impact on the society.

The two countries also lead in the Innovation Context Index, which ranks the satisfaction level on the innovation environment in the countries. Saudi Arabia and the UAE rank at 72 and 70, respectively, much higher than the 12-country average of 59. An overwhelming 76% of the respondents in the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia (62%), say public private partnerships are essential in developing innovation. The top three factors that help companies innovate are – out of the box thinkers, more people with advanced technical expertise and more financial support from public authorities. Innovation was primarily defined by respondents as the development and invention of new products, creativity and definition accounting by 31% of the respondents.

The research also focused, specifically, on healthcare and energy – two key growth sectors for the Middle East region. The majority of respondents in Saudi Arabia (90%) and the UAE (94%) said innovation will improve energy independence; the country’s carbon footprint (Saudi Arabia – 88%; UAE – 84%); and energy distribution quality (92% for both the countries). Some 76% of UAE respondents said innovation will help manage energy costs while 66% from Saudi Arabia endorsed the view. In driving the efficiency of energy consumption too, innovation has a strong role, observed most respondents (Saudi Arabia – 82%, UAE – 74%). The figures were higher than the international average, highlighting the confidence of the region in innovation-powered energy use efficiency.

In a similar trend, the Saudi Arabian and UAE response to innovation to improve healthcare efficiency was also recorded as higher than the international averages. Some 92% of Saudi and 82% of UAE respondents said innovation by companies operating in their countries could improve overall health of the population. They also observed that innovation can improve healthcare solutions for ageing populations (Saudi Arabia – 84%; UAE – 78%); health system design and delivery (Saudi Arabia and UAE – 86% each); economic sustainability of healthcare (Saudi Arabia – 92%; UAE – 88%); and rate of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes (Saudi Arabia – 70%; UAE – 80%).

Question to ponder: What are the benefits that innovation provides to governments and businesses that pay for it?

Results and visuals available at:

Reverse Innovation – Harvard Business Review

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