Despite the fresh coat of snow, the mood at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos has been gloomy. Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, forecasts of anemic global economic growth and geopolitical instability loom large as world leaders gather to discuss “the great transformation” afoot in the world. WEF Founder Klaus Schwab said that a new “collaborative power” model is needed to integrate innovative companies and growing markets into the world economy to stimulate jobs growth and sustainable economic expansion.
The global business leaders recently surveyed in the GE Global Innovation Barometer anticipated Schwab’s point. They stressed the importance of finding more open and inclusive ways to innovate, ways that promote collaboration between big and small companies and between businesses and customers.
The Innovation Barometer’s Optimism Index indicates that globally, executives remain optimistic about innovation, but less so than last year. The index registered steep declines in sentiment about innovation in South Korea, China, India, the U.S. and Brazil. The outlook is sunnier than last year in Sweden, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
GE’ s Chief Economist, Marco Annunziata, who published a review of the barometer’s findings, observed that innovation was central to economic growth and job creation. “Today, more than ever before, we are keenly aware that physical inputs are limited,” he said. He wrote that innovation “allows us to use resources more sparingly,” harness new sources of energy, and produce more with less.
But he stressed that growth was ultimately about improving living standards. He said that fields like medicine, communications and clean energy are “where innovation really comes into its own.” This theme echoed the results of GE’s inaugural barometer from 2011. That survey found that “priorities have shifted from innovations that simply make money to innovations that also create good in people’s lives.”
GE released an app this morning that allows users to browse the data and do their own analyses.