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Press Release

Australia jumps ahead in global innovation rankings but must work to convert its strengths into outcomes, according to GE report

January 29, 2013

Australia, 31 January 2013: Australia has improved its global ranking as an innovation leader, according to the GE Innovation Barometer report released today.

Out of the 25 countries surveyed, the report revealed that Australia has moved from 16th place in 2012 to 13th place in 2013 as an innovative economy - ranking ahead of growth markets such as Russia and Brazil, but still lagging behind established innovation leaders like the USA, Germany and Japan.

The report, conducted by independent market research firm Strategy One, reveals that:

- Australian businesses value innovation: 89 percent of Australian business leaders believe innovation is a strategic priority for their business

- Australian businesses are becoming more collaborative: 92 percent of Australian business leaders agree that innovation success rates are higher through partnerships, compared to "going it alone"

- Higher than the global average, 92 percent of Australian business leaders believe that small and mid-market companies can be as innovative as large companies

- Compared to the rest of the world, Australia ranks highly on a number of key indicators of a leading innovation market, notably its strong STEM (science, technology, engineering maths) education framework, high levels of collaboration between business and universities, and the quality of Australian research institutions

Steve Sargent, President & CEO of GE Australia and New Zealand said that Australia has made strong progress in improving its innovation capability, but needs further investment to drive outcomes.

"We are a high-cost, high-value country but by investing in innovation, we can turn that into our advantage by creating new models, processes and technologies that will boost productivity and drive Australia's economic growth for the long-term.

"Innovation is key for Australia to fully capitalise on the opportunities of the Asian Century. Last year, the Australian Government set a goal to have an innovation system in the world's top 10. This report shows that we are on the path to achieving that," said Mr Sargent.

Access to top talent and capital are barriers to delivering innovative outcomes for Australian businesses

Australian business leaders overwhelmingly agree (83 percent) that attracting and retaining talent is the most important factor in being able to innovate successfully, 10 points higher than the global average.

However, Australia faces significant competition for talent with a below average availability of scientists and engineers compared to other global markets.

Further, 89 percent of Australian businesses say the country's financial environment should be more open to venture capital and more than half (51 percent) want to see simplified processes for companies seeking to access public funding.

"Big data" will drive the future of Australian innovation

Australian business leaders strongly agree (83 percent) that understanding customers and anticipating market evolutions is critical to innovating successfully.

That is why companies like Qantas, NBN Co., and Rio Tinto are among the 45 percent of Australian businesses investing in the ability to leverage "big data" from inside and outside the company to innovate.

Vaughan Chandler, Executive Manager of Insights and Innovation at Qantas Loyalty said: "We've allocated about a quarter of our management resourcing towards customer analytics skill sets which range from PhD level data scientists and behavioural economists through to more traditional business intelligent reporting skill sets. For us it is viewed as a core competitive advantage that we have."

Commenting on the research findings, Australia's Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb said that Australia's capacity to create new ideas, lead change and improve the way our businesses operate is key to maintaining a competitive economy.

"It is innovation that enriches the lives of every single Australian, every single day. Consider for a moment what life would be like without modern medicine, without the internet, or without nutritious and dependable food. Then remember that all these things, plus many more on a much longer list, are there for us because of research and innovation," said Professor Chubb.

About the GE Innovation Barometer survey:

The third annual "GE Global Innovation Barometer", an independent survey of 3,100 senior business executives in 25 countries, including 100 respondents in Australia, investigates the perception of business leaders towards innovation on their own shores as well as internationally.

The research was commissioned by GE and conducted by market research firm Strategy One between October 22, 2012, and December 5, 2012. All respondents are directly involved in their company's innovation strategy or processes, with 880 of those surveyed C-suite.

Founded in 1999, Strategy One is an independent research company with offices in New York, Washington, Paris, London, Chicago, Abu Dhabi, Atlanta, and Silicon Valley.

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Joanne Woo
Communications Director
GE Australia & New Zealand
0409 330 731
[email protected]

Kendra Dubyk
n2n communications
02 9213 2345
0448 844 806
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Mick Bunworth
Media, Office of the Chief Scientist
02 6102 8179
0410 029 407
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Emma_ Rugge-Price
VP Communications
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