US leads the world when it comes to innovation, report concludes

Innovation is the main driver of job creation, success and profitability but is vulnerable to economic uncertainty, according to GE’s Global Innovation Barometer.

And the US, Germany, Japan and China provide the most innovative environments, with nearly 22 of the 50 most innovative global companies being American.

The barometer, prepared in conjunction with the Milken Institute, surveyed nearly 3,000 senior business executives in more than 20 countries for the second year.

It shows a shift from traditional innovation based on facts, figures and individual efforts to a new model promoting working relationships, teamwork and creativity.

Nearly 90 percent of experts agree the way companies innovate will be different going forward because creative types are stepping up and leading company innovations.

Experts indicate the link between innovation and competitiveness is stronger then ever before, and companies who perceived their innovative policies as competitive delivered more growth than those who did not.

“Fortunately, this year’s study suggests that companies interested in competing are up for the challenge, ready to adopt and deploy a modern approach to innovation that will deliver both value and meaningful solutions," said Beth Comstock, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer at GE.

“Innovation is a powerful lever to address the challenges of a growing world. It allows us to use resources more efficiently, produce more with less and deliver better technologies to help markets drive economic growth and better quality of life.”

Eighty-six percent of experts agreed innovation is the best way of creating jobs in their country and 92 percent agreed innovation leads to a more competitive national economy.

However, creating conditions for meaningful innovation requires "the right blend of internal and external factors that can readily be adapted to meet individual market and customer needs,” Comstock said.

The report also shows that businesses worldwide encounter the same dramas. Nine out of 10 executives found difficulty accessing external funding and are more risk-adverse than they were pre-recession. Stringent IP laws don't help, either – often hindering rather than promoting innovative ideas.

“This year’s study confirms a lot of what we’ve been seeing in the global marketplace, that the uncertainties inherent in today’s economic environment are challenging business’ ability to innovate,” she said.