Canada Ranks High in Global Innovation Barometer

9 in 10 Canadian executives believe that SMEs and individuals can be as innovative as large companies

Written by Kim Hart Macneill

Canada ranks in the top quartile of 25 countries in GE’s third annual Global Innovation Barometer, released on Jan 17.

The annual survey explores how business leaders worldwide view drivers and barriers to innovation. This most recent edition was conducted by StrategyOne, a research and consulting firm, through phone interviews with 3,100 senior business leaders in 25 countries between Oct. 22 and Dec. 5, 2012. Respondents were at the VP level or above and directly involved in their company’s innovation processes. Of those surveyed, 28% are at the C-suite level.

More than half of respondents from the other countries surveyed—58%—perceived Canada as “quite innovation-conductive”, ranking it 10th overall. Of Canadian respondents, 81% said that Canada has a “strongly innovation-conductive environment.”

Not surprisingly, 87% of Canadian executives report that innovation is a strategic priority for their business. When asked what types of innovation are expected to drive Canadian businesses in the future, the top three responses were: improvement of existing products of services (82%), development of new business processes to improve profitability (76%, which was13 points higher than the global average) and the development of entirely new products or services (64%).  More than 9 in 10 believe that SMEs and individuals can be as innovative as large companies.

Canadian respondents see increased collaboration as a key driver of innovation. With results eight points above the global average, 83% say they would partner to improve an existing product or service, while 85% say they would partner first to enter new markets, six points above the global average.

Despite championing collaboration, few Canadian respondents seem willing to walk the talk. At 11%, Canadian executives represented the lowest percentage among those surveyed who are open to sharing revenue or losses generated through collaborative innovation. The global average is 28%. When asked why, 68% cited a lack of protection of confidentiality and IP, while 64% cited a lack of trust.

“To succeed in global markets, the survey findings suggest that Canadian businesses will need to leverage Canada’s solid innovation foundation, by increasing tolerance for sharing risk, developing new business models and undertaking greater collaboration,” says Elyse Allan, president and CEO of GE Canada.

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