As businesses across the UAE look ahead to 2021, the GE Global Innovation Barometer has good news for the pace of innovation in the country, even in the wake of COVID-19.
The UAE’s global reputation for creating an environment conducive to innovation has grown more 25 percentage points since 2014, such that today, 40% of executives from countries around the world identify the UAE for its pro-innovation ecosystem. That’s the second highest jump in reputation among the 33 countries surveyed. What’s more, no other country in the survey has a more bullish domestic view of its own innovation capabilities. One quarter of UAE business executives surveyed rated the country as THE innovation champion.
With 82% of UAE respondents saying more partnerships across countries will help drive progress on innovation, it’s no surprise that 37% of UAE companies participating in the survey said they’d concluded a partnership with a multinational within the past year.
Also no surprise given the global pandemic, 62% of executive chose healthcare as the industry that had made the most significant progress in the past six months. 85% say innovation has a vital role in protecting people’s health and well-being, and 88% agree that it is more important than ever for innovation to focus on public health and the challenges facing society.
Artificial intelligence (AI), automation and machine learning (ML) were identified by 68% of respondents as being important to their company in a post-COVID-19 world, 40% say it will facilitate further innovation, 34% say it will considerably reduce the strain on the healthcare system in the UAE, and 39% say it will be an “indispensable tool” in the fight against COVID and future pandemics.
Ultimately, there was broad agreement (70%) among UAE-based executives that the best way to innovate is to prioritize long-term societal or environmental benefits, rather than short-term profitability and related business gains.
In all, the findings support that innovation is one of the propelling forces of the UAE’s development, with a clear vision and guidance by leadership to accelerate a culture of localized innovation.