The results of the 2013 study of innovation in the European Union have been published. The most innovative countries are still Germany, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. However, the gap between these so-called ‘innovation leaders’ and the innovation followers, such as the Netherlands and Luxembourg is growing.
Or, as stated by the European Commission:
Innovation performance in the EU has improved year on year in spite of the continuing economic crisis, but the innovation divide between Member States is widening. While the most innovative countries have further improved their performance, others have shown a lack of progress. The overall ranking within the EU remains relatively stable, with Sweden at the top, followed by Germany, Denmark and Finland. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are the countries that have most improved since last year. Drivers of innovation growth in the EU include SMEs and the commercialisation of innovations, together with excellent research systems. However the fall in business and venture capital investment over the years 2008-2012 has negatively influenced innovation performance.
Last week the Global Innovation Barometer (GE) has been launched. The barometer provides results from (the most important) economies around the world . For instance, in the Dutch Report they conclude: “Innovation is a strategic priority for Dutch Businesses”, with almost 91% of the respondents mentioning it. Moreover, the report mentions the following indicators as most important for innovation:
the improvement of existing products or services (mentioned by 80%)
the development of entirely new products (mentioned in second position by 70% of Netherland respondents)
the development of new business processes to improve profitability (mentioned in third position by 61% of respondents).
Switzerland keeps its prime position in the list and Singapore stays second. Switzerland is renowned for its high investment in Research and Development and highly integrated collaboration efforts between business and knowledge institutes. In Singapore the main factors mentioned are the professional attitude and efficiency of the government. The top 5 is completed with two Scandinavian countries – Sweden and Finland, because of their investments in innovation and their outstanding integration between higher education and companies and The Netherlands.
One of the new-comers in the Top 5 are The Netherlands, according to the recently published report by the World Economic Forum. The last time they were part of the Top 5 was in 2000. The Netherlands score particularly high on “advanced technology” and “innovation” and is therefore one of the most innovative countries of the world this year. The figure below shows the competitiveness of The Netherlands over the years:
The report has taken into account a bunch of different factors, grouped among the following aspects:
Health and prime school
Higher education and training
Efficiency of the goods market
Efficiency of the labour market
Development of the financial markets
Spreaded across the different aspects, several different factors in the field of innovation have been studied and depicted in the report. For instance, The Netherlands score as followed on those factors:
The following factors translate as: capacity for innovation, quality of scientific institutes, expenditures on R&D, R&D-related collaboration between universities and companies, governmental procurement of advanced technological products, availability of knowledge workers and intelectual property/patents.
Earlier this week, ABN AMRO, released a report on Open Innovation, titled “Teaming up on Open Innovation: art or science?”. Although solely released for the food sector, it explores Open Innovation theory from a new and interesting perspective. The report is authored by prof. dr. Omta (University of Wageningen), dr. Fortuin (Food Valley) and drs. Dijkman (ABN AMRO).
The core of the article consists of 5 key elements: the critical (failure) factors for Open Innovation.
What are the critical (failure) factors of Open Innovation?
Defining problems and setting goals: according to the authors there are three ways of overcoming this issue. First of all, do a lot of (premature) research and dare to stop when you’re on a dead end road. Secondly, create road maps. Meaning: use trends and market knowledge to look at least 5 years ahead, because that’s time it takes for a radical innovation to land. And lastly, “look different, look foward”, referring to Henry Fords quotation: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Partner selection: try to find partners as fast as possible. Management commitment in this process is essential. Also, don’t be egocentric. Open Innovation is about contributing rather than perceiving. And lastly, there is more contracts. A succesfull collaboration is built by mutual trust and commitment.
Building a contract: set rules and find and define the risks that are involved in collaboration. It is easy to say that risks are inevitable, but in fact, they are not if you think about them thouroughly.
Executing the Open Innovation project: don’t let fear rule the process. It happens to every project that – at some time – there is some distrust or mistrust in the partnership. Invest in trust, do what it takes. Link cultures and communicate oftenly and profoundly. This also means investing in speaking each others (technical) language and managing conflicts.
Monitoring the project: start off by knowing how important costs are, how the project will be managed and what other preconditions are necessary during the project.
Art or Science?
Oddly, the report doesn’t give an answer to the question that is raised in the title of their work. Which gives us the opportunity to ask you: what do you think: is Open Innovation art or science?