Canadian Manufacturing

Collaboration key for Canadian competitiveness, GE study finds

High number of firms identify collaboration as important, but few willing to take associated risks



MISSISSAUGA, Ont.—Canadian firms need to focus on increased collaboration in order to foster successful innovation and competitiveness, according to a new study.

General Electric’s third annual Global Innovations Barometer comparing executive perception of innovation in 25 global markets found Canada ranks among the best in the world in innovation, though only a small number of Canadian business leaders are willing to take the steps necessary to strategically manage innovation through collaboration.

According to GE, 87 per cent of Canadian executives believe innovation is a strategic priority for their business, but only 11 per cent said their respective firms would be open to sharing revenues or losses that could result from collaborative innovation.

That’s despite those same executives identifying increased collaboration as one of the keys to successful innovation, with 85 per cent saying they would partner first to enter new markets (six per cent above the global average), and a similar 83 per cent saying they would partner to improve an existing product or service (eight per cent above global average).

“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,” GE Canada president and CEO Elyse Allan said in a statement.

According to GE, 68 per cent of Canadian executives raised a lack of protection of confidentiality and/or intellectual property, while another 64 per cent indicated a lack of trust, as concerns.

In order to innovate successfully, Canadian executives identified the need to attract and retain innovative people (88 per cent), the notion of creating a culture conducive to innovation (80 per cent) and wanting to challenge generally accepted practices and ways of working (69 per cent) as key factors to success.

Those all scored approximately 15 per cent above the global average.

Canadian business leaders also recognize the role of public policy in creating the conditions for innovation, according to GE, and are calling on policy makers to take action on several fronts.

Survey results found 59 per cent encourage a stronger entrepreneurial culture in the education system, 52 per cent would like to ensure business confidentiality and trade secrets are adequately protected and 51 per cent want to see policy makers fight bureaucracy and red tape for companies willing to access funds and incentives allocated to innovation.

The annual survey was conducted by independent research and consulting firm StrategyOne.

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