Innovation Nation: Creating the Right Framework in the UAE

Innovation Nation: Creating the Right Framework in the UAE
February 26, 2013 at 12:02am

An easy way to generate a heated discussion in the UAE is to ask about the level of innovation taking place in the country. You can get emphatic and convincing arguments for “Yes” and for “No.” However, a new survey finds that senior executives at UAE-based companies generally praise the UAE’s “innovation framework” and believe both government and society strongly support innovation and the risk-taking associated with it.

This insight comes from the recently released 2013 GE Global Innovation Barometer, the annual survey of senior business executives actively engaged in the management of their firm innovation strategy. Twenty-five countries are now covered in the survey that seeks to catch the global mood concerning innovation.

This year’s survey found that executives in the UAE give their country’s innovation framework the highest score of any country in the survey, which includes the UK, the USA, China, Singapore, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Russia, among others.

Some of the key factors behind this high ranking include 87% of respondents saying that UAE society supports innovation and that young people in the country have an appetite for innovation. Eighty-five percent of respondents say the general public is convinced of the benefits that innovation can bring to everyday life, and this same percentage believe innovations are coming to market fast enough.

In a similar vein, 73% of respondents say that UAE society understands that taking risks is part of the innovation process. This number is ten percentage points higher than the global average and up sharply from how they answered this question last year, indicating a growing understanding in the UAE regarding the link between risk and innovation.

Another interesting point, given government’s large role in the economy: 78% of respondents say public-private partnerships have helped support innovation.

On the other hand, 54% of respondents say more should be done to encourage a greater entrepreneurial culture in the educational system, while 46% said more should be done to encourage the development of venture capital. Regarding government’s role in innovation more specifically, 39% of respondents called for more spending on public research, while 38% suggested government should create more incubators and other facilities to support start-ups.

No surprise given the large number of joint ventures, agency relationships and other forms of business partnerships in the country, respondents broadly embraced collaboration and partnership as a way to further innovation … and at rates higher than the global average. Specifically, 80% see collaboration as a way to enter new markets; 79% see it as a way to access new technology, and 78% see it as a way to speed the time to market for a new product or service.

Looking specifically at how innovation impacted company performance, 78% of respondents said it helped their company improve an existing product or service. Looking forward, 81% of respondents again said innovation would help them improve an existing product or service. Seventy-three percent said innovation would help them develop an entirely new product or service while 62% said innovation would help them develop or improve a product or service customized to local circumstances or conditions.

To read the full survey of UAE business leaders and how they describe the linkages among innovation, business performance and the innovation environment in the UAE, click here.

To read more about the Innovation Barometer results across the region, please click here.

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