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