By Kurt Steinert, Corporate Communications, Alcatel-Lucent
Today, Alcatel-Lucent, INSEAD, WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization), the Confederation of Indian Industry and Booz and Company launched the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2011 report (download the report here). This study provides a map of where innovation is thriving around the world, and why. In addition to helping drive this study, we were asked to offer our views on the topic of innovation and what it means for the world.
That’s a huge question, one that leads to a bunch of other questions. What is innovation? How does it impact people in their daily lives? How can innovation help us solve some of the enormous challenges facing society today?
In the process of developing the report we came up with some pretty interesting answers. Admittedly, most of them related to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) – the business we’re in – but they also related to how innovation can be applied to things like social policy, regulations and different approaches to collaboration.
What we realized was that innovation – in terms of both ideas and technologies – had a critical role to play in all types of development. Most importantly, innovation was absolutely central to making cities more environmentally and economically sustainable, getting more people connected (in both cities and rural areas) and to better supporting peoples’ health and well-being.
This is pretty important stuff, because it’s becoming pretty clear that how we manage growth – particularly in cities, where most of the growth is happening – is perhaps the single most important question we face as a global community. Why? Because the rapid expansion of cities is the world’s biggest driver of economic activity and the biggest contributor to global climate change as well. We explored this idea in depth in the chapter we contributed to the GII report, entitled Making Cities Smart and Sustainable.
It also became quite clear that ICT, one of the bigger pieces of the innovation puzzle, is clearly associated with most dimensions of well-being. This isn’t exactly a new idea, in fact a number of researchers have come to the same conclusion in recent years. However, some follow-on analysis we conducted of the data in the GII report made these connections undeniable. When it is fostered by particular communities/countries, innovation tends to bring a variety of benefits to the people in those communities. In contrast, communities where innovation is not promoted tend to founder.
This brings us back to the GII report itself. Essentially, the GII report is a comprehensive review of what different countries are doing to foster innovation – it actually ranks countries based on which ones offer the most fertile environments for innovation. Why is this important? It’s important because it provides an incredibly rich set of data that can be used by governments, global organizations, companies, academics and others to develop plans and take concrete action to improve people’s lives, with a clear recognition of what works and what doesn’t.
As our CEO Ben Verwaayen observed in his forward for the GII report: “The Global Innovation Index is laying the foundation for a global conversation of the role of innovation…it is making an essential contribution to the promotion of open innovation as a basic operating principal for the global community.”
So, consider this your invitation to join this conversation — right here, right now.