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SA business wants more state innovation

Mar 01 2012 13:37 Sapa

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Johannesburg - South African business leaders want more government support for research and development, an international business survey has shown.

Energy and healthcare are the two sectors which could benefit the most from innovation, local business leaders told the second GE Innovation Barometer, released on Thursday.

Telecommunication, construction, financial services, retail and distribution were also seen as sectors which could benefit.

Eighty-two percent of South African respondents, in line with global averages, said innovation “is the best way to create jobs“, the survey reported.

Local respondents were less satisfied than the global average regarding the way resources were allocated, particularly in job creation, healthcare, education, and research and development.

Just 32% of South African respondents were satisfied with budget allocations towards job creation, while the global average was 59%.

However, 62% of South Africans were satisfied with allocations for research and development, against a 64% global average.

Local executives said they were able to draw on research partnerships with universities to drive innovation.

But a lack of government support and the length of time taken to bring innovations to market hampered innovation efforts.

Due to the global economic crisis, access to public funds and venture capital had declined. However, South African businesses were hit harder than their peers.

The research was conducted by an independent research firm for New York-based infrastructure company General Electric.

“Investing in innovation will be key in increasing South Africa’s level of competitiveness,” said Jay Ireland, president and CEO for GE Africa.

He said government should use private sector expertise to ensure it derived the maximum benefit from opportunities.

Respondents said that partnerships would drive innovation over the next decade.

Twenty-seven percent said small and medium businesses would drive innovation, but only 12% said large companies would.

Phone interviews were conducted late last year with 2 800 senior executives across 22 countries, including South Africa.The executives were either directly involved in innovation at their companies or were decision makers.

businesses  |  sa economy  |  job creation


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Johannesburg has been selected to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in 2017. "[The congress] will ensure that small business development remains firmly on the national agenda and the radar screen of all stakeholders, the Small Business Development minister said.

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