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The Innovation Olympics: Let the Games Begin


The innovation landscape is changing.  So suggests a slew of recent innovation studies and reports from the likes of Goldman Sachs and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), among others.

And, while the US and Japan maintain their leadership status ininnovation emerging markets science and technology innovation, new players are fast emerging with China leading the pack.  According to a new report from the Boston Consulting Group, emerging-market cities (there are more than 700 such cities with populations of a half-million or greater, all growing at rates well above the global average) will account for 30 percent (more than $2.6 trillion) of global private consumption by 2015 – representing a significant shift in the global innovation landscape. 

According to the new report from the Global Markets Institute at Goldman Sachs, R&D spending in Asia surpassed R&D spending in the EU in 2005 and is set to overtake US R&D spending within the next five years.  And, the 2009/2010 Global Innovation Index, published earlier this year by business school INSEAD, stresses the importance of innovation in country competitiveness and development strategies – noting that the country leaders of today are not necessarily the leaders of tomorrow.

So what does this mean for the ‘old’ innovation olympians – US, Japan, Germany – and global companies? Aside from the obvious need to commit to and invest in innovation and higher education, particularly in the sciences and engineering, what can countries and companies do now so as not to be left behind?

BCG urges organizations to reconsider their current strategies (focused on developed markets) and take fast action to analyze and define growth plans for emerging markets to be served now and in the future.  

Then there is the matter of developing and redefining products and services to suit regionalized needs, tastes, wants and budgets.  Fast.  

To claim the gold (or silver, or bronze), organizations must be quick to define product development plans for emerging markets and must be more efficient in innovating than their competitor – who may or may not be the competitor they know today.