Business executives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rank the nation as a global leader in creating an ‘innovation-conducive environment,’ according to the 2020 GE Global Innovation Barometer.
This year, the Global Innovation Barometer surveyed over 3,400 business executives in 22 countries, including the UAE, in two separate studies; one concluding in February 2020 and another pulse in September 2020. The second study was conducted to understand any changes in global sentiment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UAE’s business leaders rate their country as the innovation champion (25 percent) ahead of the US (22 percent), Japan (16 percent) and China (14 percent). More than half (56 percent) believe the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the pace of innovation to increase or stay the same, while only a third (34 percent) say there has been a positive impact on the ability of their business to innovate.
The UAE findings of the global study, now in its seventh edition, were launched today at a media webinar. The survey further reveals that 4 in 10 global business executives (40 percent) endorse the UAE’s enabling environment for innovation, ahead of countries such as Finland (38 percent), India (37 percent), Italy (37 percent) and Malaysia (32 percent). The US (73 percent), Japan (70 percent), China (68 percent), Germany (63) and the UK (53 per cent) lead the barometer as the Top 5 nations for an innovation-conducive environment.
Dalya Al Muthanna, President & CEO of GE Gulf, said the findings of the study reflect the consistent focus of the UAE’s leadership in nurturing a culture of innovation in the country, a journey in which GE has been an active partner for the past eight decades.
“With UAE businesses viewing innovation as a strategic priority, especially in the midst of the pandemic, it is important to promote governmental and industry collaboration to drive localized innovation. UAE executive value the societal impact of innovation and are increasingly drawn to Artificial Intelligence to propel it forward. This is a strong testament to the successful vision of the UAE in creating an environment conducive to innovation, especially by harnessing the possibilities of advanced technologies.”
Innovation to drive societal benefits
Business executives in the UAE align with the global sentiment that innovation should deliver long-term positive societal or environmental benefit, with over two-thirds (70 percent) rating this as more important than short-term profitability. Since the onset of the pandemic, the importance of societal impact has increased, with almost 9 in 10 (88 percent) saying it is more important than ever for innovation to focus on public health and the challenges facing society.
Healthcare Industry as Innovation Champion
In this year’s report, business executives voiced their admiration for the healthcare industry’s ingenuity during the pandemic, with 79 percent in the UAE saying it has outperformed all other sectors with respect to innovation progress and has set a great example for others to follow on speeding up innovation. A vast majority (85 percent) cited innovation’s vital role in protecting people’s health and well-being.
Healthcare is seen as the top industry to make significant progress in the past six months, and even more so by UAE business executives (62 percent) compared with 52 percent globally. The other sectors that the nation’s business leaders feel have made innovation progress following the pandemic are high-tech and IT (48 percent), telecoms (44 percent) and communications, and media and culture (39 percent).
AI as a catalyst for innovation
Over two-thirds (68 percent) of UAE business executives say innovations using AI will be even more important post-COVID-19 and 77 percent say AI and machine learning will be important because of its benefits to the working experience. Other reasons cited for the importance of AI and machine are that they will allow more people to work remotely; they will be an indispensable tool to fight against COVID -19 and future pandemics; and will reduce costs giving employees more job security in addition to reducing strain on the country’s healthcare system.
Partnerships will drive progress on innovation
Partnerships across countries, companies and with governments are seen as drivers of innovation post-COVID-19. They share an overwhelming need for promoting partnerships with partnerships across different industries (87 percent), with governments (84 percent) and with more countries (82 percent) will drive progress on innovation. Not surprisingly, partnerships across MNCs, national companies and government have remained stable in UAE compared to pre-COVID-19, with a third of all partnerships being with MNCs prior to and following the pandemic.