Innovation offers growth hope

The global financial outlook has looked gloomy for sometime, and this week, another blow was dealt as a new independent watchdog downgraded UK’s economic growth projections to 2.6%, from 3.25% (the estimate given in Labour’s last budget).A recent report by the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts called ‘Rebalancing the economy’ (nesta.org.uk) outlines the potential for four possible courses for the UK:

1. Business as usual, which the report outlines as too slow to deliver sufficient growth, particularly in the UK’s old industrial areas

2. Broad-based manufacturing renaissance, which the report concludes is not realistic given the track record of manufacturing growth

3. Hi-tech growth, and the development of the hi-tech sector to match the likes of Finland and Germany

4. Innovation-led, which the report concludes is the most likely to produce the rate of growth required (3.2% on average per year).

This report is the latest in a series of calls outlining the importance of innovation in helping global economies recover from the impact of the recession.However, one key problem remains: Innovation is often talked about at such high levels – commericialisation of academic research and so on – that it’s easy to overlook the part that specific businesses, departments or individuals can make. Many companies and their Boards still struggle with the concept of how they can foster a culture of innovation within their organisations.

In reality, IT departments, and specifically CIOs, have a huge opportunity to lead on innovation within organisations by opening up the IT infrastructure to enable people to innovate using the wide range of technologies (often web-based) that are now available. By developing a culture of innovation at the core of any business, growth is encouraged, and it’s through the combination of these individual steps that overall success can be achieved world-wide.