Just as GE was launching its $200 million ecomagination technology challenge in July, preliminary results were also being released from the wide-ranging “GE Innovation Barometer” — an independent survey of 240 Brussels opinion leaders on innovation policies in the European Union. Today, the full results were published, coming at a time when the theme of innovation is a hotly debated topic across Europe as the EU has placed innovation at the core of its 2020 strategy and the European Commission’s much-anticipated Innovation Strategy report and action plans will soon be issued. Among the key themes that emerged from today’s report are the need to remove barriers to innovation; a call for more public-private partnerships; and a strong desire to develop policies that encourage more entrepreneurial risk-taking and venture capital investing. As one respondent said in the survey: “I see other countries like the United States as not so much having good policies on innovation but creating an environment that fosters an innovative spirit.” And as Nani Beccalli-Falco, president and CEO of GE International, succinctly said in the Barometer’s foreward: “We have a choice: to innovate or stagnate.”
|Among the findings: While there is widespread agreement that innovation can change the lives of those living in the EU, there is still a need to better explain to the general population how innovation policies help make that happen. Click to enlarge.|
As we described in our story in July, 90 percent of respondents believe innovation is the main lever to create a more competitive and greener economy and 86 percent believe investing in innovation is the best way to create jobs in the EU. When it comes to which sectors would create the most jobs if supported by an innovation policy, Energy led with 78 percent, followed by Healthcare (66%) and Telecommunications (57%).
* Read the full GE Innovation Barometer
In addition to strengthening policies, the survey also found interest in encouraging students to be more innovative by working closely on real world projects with governments and companies to foster a paradigm shift. And 83 percent of respondents believe that Public Private Partnerships are essential to developing a more innovative Europe. Click to enlarge.
As Nani explained in the report: “Economic globalization has led to a shift in the economic order and that poses both an opportunity and a challenge for the EU. If Europe is to compete and maintain its position as a major economic force it needs to become more innovative and respond to the changing market conditions…. Innovation can be the catalyst for Europe’s economic renewal but that will not happen in a vacuum. We need to create an environment that promotes, incentivizes and rewards innovation in its broadest sense, by both the public and private sectors. GE believes strongly that those companies and economies that invest in innovation today will emerge from the current economic difficulties strongly positioned for growth.”
There’s already large agreement across Europe that innovation must be a cornerstone of long-term economic strategy. The survey found that now there is a need to focus on the implementation phase of innovation with concrete action. Click to enlarge.
As Dr. Georg Schütte, Germany’s junior minister for education and research, recently said in an interview with Eur Activ, “The EU’s new innovation strategy must do more to link research, education and entrepreneurship if it is to tackle Europe’s ‘innovation gap.’”
While bureaucracy is viewed as slowing innovation, the survey also found that there is a belief that not enough private and venture capital funds are present, either for stand-alone financing or in co-funded projects. A telling statistic is that in 2009, the European Patent Office granted 52,000 patents — which is 13 percent less than in 2008. Click to enlarge.
On the positive side, the survey found that expectations are high across Europe that innovation could be the key to long-term economic success. But along with that is the widespread recognition that “innovation might become only a shallow mantra for change if not converted into pragmatic, action-oriented decision-making.” Importantly, there’s a conviction, the survey found, that EU leaders have “decided to switch gears from ambition to implementation.”
That spirit of action can also be seen in entries submitted to GE’s $200 million ‘ecomagination Challenge’ an initiative to help accelerate technology through open collaboration and venture capital funding. It’s already attracted more than 2,000 entries of which 250 are from Europe. Said Tore Land, GE’s ecomagination leader for Europe, Middle East and Africa: “In launching our ‘ecomagination Challenge’ GE is working to play its part in supporting open innovation and to act as a catalyst to support the emergence of new technologies which will drive the development of a cleaner, smarter and more efficient economy. There are many stranded technologies and innovations that never become commercialized — the GE Challenge will help unlock the potential that exists.”
* Read Commissioner Quinn’s full speech from the launch event
* Read “Germany wants EU to plug ‘innovation gap’” from Eur Activ
* Read “Governments want research funding at heart of innovation plan” from Eur Activ
* Visit the challenge website
* Visit ecomagination.com
* Read more ecomagination stories on GE Reports
Learn more in these GE Reports stories:
* “EU innovation survey IDs gaps as GE Challenge debuts”
* “Merging scale & innovation in GE’s $200M challenge”
* “Unveiled: $200M challenge, EV charger, smart monitor