Checking for the global pulse of innovation

As a report, the 2019 Global Innovation Index (GII) is a whopper, at 450 pages, although 50% of this is detailed economic profiles and data tables for each country within the index.

This GII report investigates and reports on 129 countries and then analyzes and ranks them accordingly.

When you are caught up in generating innovation within a business these sorts of reports can often pass you by as not so relevant to your everyday job of innovation.

I can certainly understand that but as a barometer of the health and investment going into innovation, it will eventually filter through to you and has more relevance than you first imagine.

This report is mainly for those interested in forming national policy on innovation, or judging where they are within the global race on innovation, yet it tells us all some really important points on the current health of innovation.

Yet the innovation message is for us all. If nothing else read this summary.

The really important message to hearten all involved in innovation is “that formal and informal innovation seems to be blossoming globally” (pg 2) even though the concerns are growing on the effects of both economic and geopolitical uncertainties are taking their toll on global economic growth. The report suggests this is “losing momentum”. As innovation is a major engine to investments and productivity growth around the world this is signaling some problems ahead unless things change.

The suggestion in the report is there are two possible bottlenecks from the innovative perspective might be contributing to the forward-looking innovation investment and adoptions needed

These being, firstly a decline in the level and speed of innovation, partly due to lower investments in research and development and also a continuing uneven adoption of innovation across individual economies and the world at large. This fits very much with the present needs of innovators, managing on the job, are struggling to scale and attract the right levels of investments or have sufficient resources to implement innovation. Then as we continue to run our innovation activities in many unstructured ways, failing to provide a comprehensive approach to innovation from end-to-end we do limit adoption and identification. Both of these policy issues are very much part of the incumbent innovator’s dilemma to resolve. Policy and Reality seem to mirror the same issues.

The scope of “breakthrough innovation” is coming increasingly reliant on digital technologies, automation, data processing and artificial intelligence (AI) the view is this has a longer-term impact and is potentially drawing from the immediate and medium-term innovation as this shift in innovation continues to gather momentum. This longer-term focus might not provide the productivity growth in the medium term as we go through the changes that these technology and digital solutions require. Again, I think this mirrors the current organization dilemmas on making the level of commitment to changing and adapting to technology and what it will bring in any new innovation activity.

The two other crucial observations that emerge from this GII report are, firstly “businesses do not seem to engage in innovation processes, products and solutions evenly, leading to slower productivity growth” I view this comment validating the struggle many organizations are facing moving from a closed innovation approach into a more open one, even embracing platforms and ecosystems which point far more to greater growth potential.

Secondly, they worry over “knowledge gaps” are still prominent and possibly growing. Perhaps we are losing more experience in capabilities and competences and becoming a little over-reliant on automating the process would be a question I would have from this comment?

The really encouraging messages for us all are these.

The really encouraging messages that should give belief into the innovator working in the trenches from this report are the following

  1. Innovation is recognized by all economies as vitally important to nurture and develop. In the past, it was the domain of the high-income economies but the developing economies are getting the “innovation message, where they have an “abundance” of natural resources they need innovative thinking and policies to boast both economical and social development. The interest in innovation is getting wider appreciation and attention. That is a good thing for innovators in those countries to get the sense of identity of innovations importance and their need to embrace it.
  2. Then the recognition that innovation covers “all realms of the economy” and finally “breaking the myth” innovation is solely concerned with science-driven and high-tech driven outputs is a potential breakthrough for the sustaining health of innovation into the future. We need solutions to countless global challenges so we need to recognize innovation’s place within this.
  3. The ability to conceptualize innovation has radically altered innovation understanding. The active interest in promoting local, frugal and inclusive innovation is taking hold and blending far more with local cultures, crafts, and skillsets. This recognizing innovation is local, it can evolve in local ways that may on the surface not be traditional but can encourage a platform of new entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to release themselves from the shackles of doctrine and just experiment, explore and discover innovation “their way”.

What I take away here is the changing recognition we are having of the importance of innovation globally.

This bottom-up movement of innovation activity is so much more productive than imposing innovation conditions from the top. The policy should be far more towards enablers and facilitators, measuring engagement and achievement so much differently than we do today. Grass-roots innovation leads to green-shoots of economic and social stimulus and growth. The policy should be more nurturing and more sustaining.

Each of these has stimulated modern-day trend shifts in innovation policy.

  • The realization of societal challenges, such as food security, environmental challenges, energy transitions, and health is gaining increased attention and realization that innovation is central to these.
  • The organization of innovation is for all. Innovation stimulus or activity is not the focus of one department or ministry, it has become cross-ministerial in the task and collective government attention. This allows for greater potential in public and private collaborations as dealing across ministries was always a significant barrier, that seems to be finally addressed.
  • The really major shift is towards dynamic innovation ecosystems. The report is detecting the gravitating from “just” fostering science and R&D expenditure to the striving for the creation and upkeep of sound and dynamic innovation ecosystems. This is absolute (lovely) music to my ears, focusing my time and energy onto dynamic innovation ecosystems.
  • The last one is how date-based evidence and innovation metrics are increasing at the center of crafting, deploying and evaluating innovation (policies).

Equally, the good thing is innovation is gravitating into a healthier recognition of its critical role at the national country level.

The report points towards a growing awareness for promoting “increased curiosity of science and entrepreneurship in children and students, on how to make public research more relevant to business, how to promote inward technology transfers and foster business innovation expenditure to be designed into innovation policies to gain increased adoption of innovation and enabling the conditions for this to happen.

The underlying messages from the GII report.

The underlying message one gets is the realization (finally), at national level, to anchor policy objectives into innovation is necessitating investment in these enabling conditions such as infrastructure in research and technology transfer, in education and skills, in promoting entrepreneurs and seek to attract venture capital as occurring, not just as part of past practice for a few developed economies but for the vast majority seeking ways to reduce the divides and gaps, finally recognizing that within their possession is a cadre of innovators who can make a real difference in their national economies but also increasingly on the global stage,.

The report concludes there is true progress in fostering innovation on the ground globally to foster innovation. Now that enables all innovators and can help in recognizing and delivering the foundations for innovation-driven growth, something we all need to work towards.

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