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Street Smarts

Statistics on innovation are hard to come by, in large part because there is no universal way to measure innovation and all of its components. New product launches and spending on research and development (R&D) are one way of looking at innovation, but so are improved processes on an assembly line or new methods of gathering feedback from consumers. The nature of such metrics varies from one industry to the next, but no matter what the industry, there is no doubt that innovation is vital.

Here, we've gathered a few statistics that demonstrate both the importance and pursuit of innovation, as well as how it is perceived by consumers and corporate executives alike.

  • Innovation is a significant contributor to economic growth.
    • Economists calculate that approximately 50 percent of U.S. annual GDP growth is attributable to increases in innovation.
        • Council on Competitiveness, “Measuring Regional Innovation: A Guidebook for Conducting Regional Innovation Assessments,” October 2005.


  • Companies around the globe are looking for innovation everywhere.
    • Ninety-one (91) percent of the top 1,000 R&D spenders among multinational companies conduct innovation activities outside of the countries where they are headquartered.
    • In 2007, the top 1,000 R&D spenders spent 55 percent of their innovation dollars outside of their home countries.
        • Booz & Company, “Beyond Borders: The Global Innovation 1000,” 2008


  • Corporate executives know that many of the best ideas don’t come from company-funded research.
    • Companies that profess best practices in innovation produce 44 percent of their innovations from ideas generated outside the company.
        • A.T. Kearney, “Innovation Management,” 2008
    • Forty (40) percent of corporate chief executive officers and other business executives named “employees” as a significant source of innovative ideas, and about 35 percent named “customers.” Fewer than 20 percent cited “internal R&D.”
        • IBM, “The Global CEO Study 2006”


  • Influential consumers expect CEOs to be innovative.
    • In Brazil, 83 percent of influentials expect corporate CEOs to be a leading source of innovation and technology. That compares to these countries:
    • 76 percent in India
    • 71 percent in Argentina
    • 66 percent in China
    • 65 percent in France
    • 60 percent in the U.S.
    • 58 percent in Canada and Italy
    • 56 percent in Germany and Spain
    • 48 percent in the U.K.
        • Ketchum, “Expectations and Frustrations: How the Public Perceives Corporations and CEOs,” 2007


  • Collaboration yields innovation.
    • Two-thirds of CEOs are implementing extensive innovations in their business models, and more than 40 percent are changing their enterprise models to be more collaborative.
        • IBM, “The Global CEO Study 2008”


  • Companies examine innovation from various angles.
    • When it comes to tracking components of innovation, 82 percent of senior executives say their companies track profitability, 62 percent track time to market, and 61 percent track idea generation and selection.
        • The Boston Consulting Group, Measuring Innovation 2007


  • Chief innovation officers face some key challenges.
    • Thirty-five (35) percent of CIOs say that getting enough of the right people with the right competencies and talent is a challenge to innovation; 30 percent cite money as a challenge; and 17 percent point to having a culture that supports change.
        • Trek Consulting LLC, “Cultivating Innovation – Lessons from America’s Chief Innovation Officers,” 2006


Bhavana Singh, Ketchum innovation associate, contributed to this article.
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