Pride and Protectionism: GE publishes 2020 GE Global Innovation Barometer

14:00 | 09/01/2021

GE’s global survey of business executives has found a growing number of executives who are confident that their country is self-sufficient and does not need to rely on other countries to innovate.

pride and protectionism ge publishes 2020 ge global innovation barometer
87 per cent of business executives say that innovation plays a vital role in protecting people's health and wellbeing

American multinational conglomerate GE has just unveiled the results of its 2020 GE Global Innovation Barometer titled “Pride and Protectionism: A Quest for Innovation Agency”.

The study, which included survey questions both before the global outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019 and again in September 2020, explores how global business leaders think about the state of innovation and how its future is being impacted by the pandemic and other geopolitical trends.

This year’s report reveals a paradox emerging with regards to business executives’ view on cross-border collaboration and protectionism.

The report shows that business executives increasingly view protectionism as a way to protect their domestic innovation environments, while at the same time, the results show that their appetite for collaboration across industries and geographies remains strong.

Overall, the study highlights innovation’s vital role in addressing the major challenges that the world now faces, while also exploring how the pandemic poses threats to the globe’s new innovation imperative.

In its seventh edition, the Global Innovation Barometer surveyed over 3,400 business executives in 22 countries in two separate studies; one concluding in February of 2020 and another in September of 2020. The second study was conducted to understand any changes in global sentiment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, the study highlights innovation’s vital role in addressing the major challenges that the world now faces, while also exploring how the pandemic poses threats to the globe’s new innovation imperative.

Further, the pandemic solidified business leaders’ belief that innovation is both vital to their future and under threat. They see innovation having a crucial role in addressing the major challenges that the world now faces; however, they also feel that pandemic poses threats to this new innovation imperative. Progress has slowed in some industries and markets since the onset of COVID-19 as a result.

In this year’s report, business executives voiced their admiration for the healthcare industry’s ingenuity during the pandemic, saying it has outperformed all other sectors with respect to innovation progress in the period, 9 per cent more than the next most innovative industry, the telecoms/internet industry.

The private sector is seen as taking a leadership role in driving innovation in healthcare, with 83 per cent of business executives saying that companies have taken a leadership role in driving innovation due to the pandemic.

This is five points higher than business executives’ perception of the government’s role in driving innovation in the period. This year’s study is reflective of business executives’ belief that healthcare innovation is required to enable the innovation of other industries. According to respondents, the healthcare industry has risen to the challenge of COVID-19 and the business community has gained a deeper appreciation for the industry’s role in the economy overall.

The study also pulsed global business leaders on which country they believe to be the world’s innovation leader.

While the study’s results in September found that China and the US were in a narrowing race to claim their place as the globe’s innovation champion, China’s place has softened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the US lead remains.

Some additional top findings from the report are that 87 per cent of business executives say that innovation plays a vital role in protecting people's health and wellbeing, and 82 per cent believe the healthcare industry has set a great example for others to follow regarding the speed of innovation.

Executives also identified mobility, investment, and collaboration restrictions as their biggest concerns for the future of innovation, and 50 per cent are concerned that the restriction of people, goods, and services will have a negative effect on innovation.

Anh Duc

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