Rise of a new innovation order?

When it comes to the history of innovation, Asia is no slouch, with China alone accounting for inventions as diverse as paper, printing and countless engineering, manufacturing and military technologies. In recent decades, though, the developed economies – particularly the US – have dominated. That may be changing, with the rapid rise of developing economies such as Brazil, India and China (BIC). The Boston Consulting Group is currently compiling its 2011 innovation report but last year’s findings make interesting reading. Developing economies “appear poised to put a major dent in the mature economies’ self-image and position, if not to assume their leadership outright”, the report says. Against a backdrop of highly supportive government policies, 82 per cent of BIC respondents said their company considered innovation a top-two or top-three priority, versus 68 per cent from mature companies. And 85 per cent of BIC respondents said their company planned to boost their innovation spend versus 53 per cent from mature economies. However, the rise of this ‘new world order’ may not be as seamless as some bullish observers predict, cautions Scott Anthony, head of Innosight’s Asian operations. He contrasts the hierarchical nature of many Asian companies with Israeli culture, which has produced more start-up companies per capita than any other country. “I continue to feel tremendous innovation energy in (Asia),” he writes, but the region may need a “’Woodstock moment’ to realise its full innovation potential”.

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