GEs Innovation Research
GE Global Innovation Barometer is an interesting research into innovation as it focuses on the executives of the biggest companies. And what makes this years’ results even more interesting is that they include Poland and present it against a global background. The GE’s report shows what heads of big companies think about innovation and what obstacles and opportunities they see. For example, as many as 88 per cent of Polish respondents are convinced that innovation is the main lever to create a more competitive economy. I suspect that this ratio is considerably lower among the representatives of Poland’s SMEs sector.
GE Innovation Barometer is a research commissioned by GE and conducted by a research company StrategyOne. It analyses the level of innovation in 13 countries worldwide. Poland is the only country in Central and Eastern Europe to be included in the research. The part of the research regarding Poland includes interviews with 100 executives directly involved in the shaping and implementation of innovation strategies in their companies. GE commissions the research in order to obtain knowledge on how business perceives EU’s innovation policy.
During the introduction to the presentation of the research results, Lesław Kuzaj, CEO for GE in CE stressed that innovation is not conceived in a vacuum as even the best and the most breakthrough idea first needs to hit the right market. A good example may be the invention of a light bulb by Thomas Edison, GE’s founder. It was indeed a revolutionary product, but it would not have become successful without the fast development of electrical power infrastructure.
According to the research, Polish managers believe innovation to be most profitable in the following sectors: energy (43 per cent of respondents), construction (37 per cent), healthcare (37 per cent), automotive (30 per cent) and telecommunications (24 per cent). Interestingly, while a large part of these results coincides with the results obtained in other countries, Polish managers pointed to the automotive industry as one of the most profitable ones.
Additionally, Polish managers have a slightly more individualistic attitude to innovation than their foreign counterparts. Only 79 per cent of them are convinced that innovation is more about partnership than stand alone success. In other countries innovation is perceived as requiring a team effort by as many as 86 per cent of respondents.
Poland quite significantly departures from the world trend in the case of the most desired type of innovation. 77 per cent of all respondents believe that in the 21 century the most important innovations will be those which will provide answers to important social issues, and not those which may generate high profits. Only 65 per cent of Polish respondents agree with this statement. 75 per cent of executives from the countries included in the survey believe that the SMEs can be as innovative as big companies, compared to 65% of Polish executives who share this view.
The research also confirms the existence of other problems related to innovation in Poland diagnosed by other researches. For example, difficulties related to the cooperation between science and business, as well as intellectual property issues. Only 44 per cent of Polish managers believe that companies easily partner with universities in order to carry out joint R&D projects (the average for all countries included in the research is 69 per cent). Only a half of Polish respondents consider patent protection in Poland to be effective (compared to 63% in other countries), which appears to be a fairly good result given the Polish reality. However, one should keep in mind that the research covered the biggest companies for which cooperation with science or protection of intellectual property is much easier than for SMEs.
Executives from the biggest companies have a very severe judgment on the state support for innovations. Only 20 per cent consider it to be “effective and coordinated,” while the global average is 41 per cent. Only 19 per cent of Polish respondents are convinced that the public authorities allocate sufficient funds for the support of innovative companies, compared to 48 per cent of respondents from other countries.
A very interesting part of the research is the “innovation optimism” index. The respondents were asked if in their view innovation could improve the quality of life in their countries (it weighed 100 points). The most optimistic in this respect were executives from countries such as Saudi Arabia (88), United Arab Emirates (86) and Brazil (82). Poland is on the low side of the index (72), accompanied by Germany (72), Sweden (73) and China (68).
GE is primarily interested in the following sectors: energy, aviation and healthcare, that is sectors which will be subject to major changes in the near future. In turn, the authors of EU’s innovation policy are mostly focused on an increase in the energy efficiency and improvement in the quality of life of citizens. No wonder then that a corporation the size of GE carries out a research into the attitudes of businesses to innovation. Lesław Kuzaj says that “innovation requires a specific environment whose key elements include skills, collaboration and the market.” Today, we must ask ourselves how to keep talented innovators at home and how to improve the local conditions for the development of innovation.” GE may serve as an example. Being a global company, it has chosen Warsaw as a location of its Engineering Design Center created in cooperation with the Aviation Institute, whose 1300 engineers are currently working on new technology projects. What GE is doing then is using Polish achievements and developing them on a global scale. Likewise, GE Lighting’s global technology center and GE Healthcare’s regional center are located in Budapest, while Prague is where turboprop engines are being developed. Innovation always depends on the condition of the market.