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“Innovation is crucial for a competitive and green economy” - GE unveils its 'Global Innovation Barometer’ - Compelling views from Brussels and the rest of the world


26 Jan 2011


EU Priorities 2020
Innovation & Enterprise
Regional Policy

Brussels /Davos , 26 January 2011: GE (NYSE:GE) today published the results of its ‘Global Innovation Barometer’ - an independent survey of 1,000 senior business leaders across 12 countries.[1] The research, conducted by StrategyOne, examines the perceptions of respondents to the current drivers and deterrents to innovation and the role of innovation in addressing significant societal challenges and enhancing the quality of lives of citizens. Today's findings are comparable to a recent GE Barometer of key opinion leaders in the Brussels arena.


Comparing both Barometers

95% of respondents in the 'Global Innovation Barometer' cited innovation as the main lever for a more competitive national economy. Amongst Brussels stakeholders, this figure stands at 90%.  Meanwhile, 88% of the global respondents identified innovation as the best way to create jobs, while in the Belgian capital, this percentage is slightly lower at 86%.  Crucially, 90% of respondents in both surveys see innovation as the main catalyst for a greener economy.

Despite the myriad of similarities between both set of results, differences in opinion were noted. For example, when asked how  innovation in particular areas could improve the lives of citizens over the next decade, in the global survey, 91% cited communications, 87% cited health quality and 85% environmental quality and the jobs market. These figures are in stark contrast to Brussels where those interviewed see innovations in Energy (78%), Healthcare (66%), and Telecommunications (57%) as industries that will create the most jobs, thus improving quality of life.


The Innovation Optimism Paradox

The 'Global Innovation Barometer' also asked executives to name the three countries they viewed as the leading innovation champions; the U.S. topped the list with 67 percent, followed by Germany (44%), Japan (43%), and China (35%). Then, the survey explored the degree to which executives believed innovation would improve the lives of their countries’ citizens and the likelihood that that improvement would happen based on current conditions. Ironically, none of the top four countries that were considered innovation champions by their peers were optimistic about the power and prospect of innovation. Both China and Japan were designated “pessimists,” while the U.S. and Germany were designated “traditionalists,” falling in between optimism and pessimism.


Perceived barriers to innovation

The 'Global Innovation Barometer’ then examined the perceived barriers to creating a flourishing innovation economy. 19% of respondents believe nothing useful has been done in the past 5 years while 15% said better private and Government funding and investment is needed. Meanwhile, 9% see environmental and energy initiatives as lacking.

Conversely, opinions from the EU version of the Barometer indicate that 88% of respondents see 'bureaucratic procedures slowing down the absorption', with 64% citing 'inexperience and lack of expertise on the ground'. Meanwhile 63% find the 'inability of Member States to provide matching funds' as problematic. In addition, 49% of respondents believe a lack of projects or the inability to identify projects to be a handicap. Concerns also exist about an insufficient appetite for venture capital in funds management.

Asked to rank the top three factors which can help companies innovate, the global results show that  having an adequate talent pool is key.  58% of respondents see the need for 'more creative people on the team' and 'out of the box thinkers' and 48% want to see ‘more people with advanced technical expertise’. ‘More financial support from public authorities’ was seen as the third most important driver at 34%.

In the EU Barometer, an overwhelming majority of respondents cited the need for more public-private partnerships and more consistency in the EU/Member States policies and incentives. However, the most important point made was the need to change the processes to allow the private sector access to structural funds.


An Innovation Union

GE's vision and indeed its findings are in line with the EU's recently launched 'Innovation Union' - an initiative that will focus Europe's efforts on challenges such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population. The Innovation Union is a 'flagship' in the Europe 2020 Strategy and is seen by the Executive as crucial for economic recovery.

Commenting on the findings of the global report, Mr Nani Beccalli-Falco, President and CEO GE Europe and North Asia said, “The report indicates a very high level of support for innovation. There is a clear consensus that innovation can be the catalyst for more prosperous and competitive economy. The report also recognises the role which collaboration between parties will play in driving future innovations and the potential for Public Private Partnerships.” 

“This study illustrates that the rules around innovation are changing, and that companies, like ours, will need to evolve our strategy in order to stay competitive, drive growth and contribute meaningfully to the economy,” said Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer and senior vice president, GE  who is attending . “For innovation to flourish, we must embrace a new innovation paradigm that promotes collaboration between all players – big, small, public, and private - fosters creativity, and emphasizes solutions that meet local needs.”

Sean Kelly MEP in Brussels added, “For innovation to grow we need to create an environment that promotes, incentivises and rewards innovation in its broadest sense, by both the public and private sectors. Both Barometers identify measures that can be undertaken to improve the level and quality of innovation. These measures include greater support for innovation through public funding and a more efficient and co-ordinated approach by national governments.”


A Clear Path Forward for Global Innovation

With findings from this survey in mind, GE has embarked on several initiatives that will foster innovation in lock step with today’s global needs. For example, the company established the GE ecomagination Challenge, a $200 million fund to help drive collaboration among entrepreneurs, researchers, and SMEs to accelerate the pace of innovation. The challenge is currently focused on novel ideas for powering the home.



About GE

GE (NYSE: GE) is an innovative and diversified technology company taking on the world’s toughest challenges. From aircraft engines and power generation to financial services, healthcare, and television programming, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company's website at


About the surveys

Global Innovation Barometer

The research has been commissioned by GE and conducted by StrategyOne between December 10th 2010 and January 14th 2011. Interviews with the 1,000 senior business executives were conducted by telephone across 12 countries. All respondents are directly involved in their company’s innovation processes and are VP and above with 30% of those surveyed C-suite.


Brussels Innovation Barometer

The research has been commissioned by GE and conducted by StrategyOne in April-July 2010. The survey combines both quantitative and qualitative data, gathered through email and phone interviews.  With the EU placing innovation at the core of its 2020 strategy, and in advance of the publication later this year of the European Commission’s Innovation Strategy, the research was commissioned by GE to investigate the way Brussels opinion leaders view the current state of innovation policies within the union. Respondents to the survey include a wide array of relevant stakeholders and represent Brussels-based institutions, NGOs and businesses.


Results and visuals available at:


Founded in 1999 StrategyOne is an independent research company with offices in New York, Washington, Paris, London, Chicago, Abu Dhabi, Atlanta, and Silicon Valley.

[1]    Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, S Korea, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Sweden, United States.