Economic development

Global innovation resists in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic

Global innovation resists in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic

Investment in innovation is not slowing down due to the pandemic: there is a growing awareness of its importance in ensuring economic growth.

What is the state of global innovation after the pandemic? What is happening with investments in innovation? and regarding Spain? We interviewed our trustee, Soumitra Dutta, following the publication of the GII: Global Innovation Index 2021, of which he is the editor. 

The Global Innovation Index 2021 (GII) ranks the innovation performance of 132 countries around the world. 

Interview with Soumitra Dutta on September 2021

On the occasion of its publication at the end of September 2021, we have interviewed Soumitra Dutta, Bankinter Innovation Foundation’s trustee, Professor of Management and former founding Dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University in New York and co-founder and editor of the aforementioned report. 

Under the heading Tracking Innovation Through the COVID-19 Crisis, this year’s edition looks at the impact of the pandemic on global innovation performance. 

This year, Soumitra has led the creation of an Academic Network to involve the world’s leading universities and support both research and the dissemination of GII results within the academic world. They currently have eight global institutions that they hope to double in 2022. 

Prepared by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Global Innovation ranking is led by Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea, with China being more close to the Top 10 (position 12) and Spain remaining in position 30. Spain repeats its position with respect to the 2020 edition. If you want to check the indicators for Spain, you can do so here

Soumitra highlights two key insights from this year’s report: 

1.- The global innovation landscape is slowly changing. The GII has been warning about this for several years. There is an urgent need to accelerate the pace of innovation in the context of COVID-19. In the face of an unprecedented crisis, it is important to harness the power of innovation to collectively build a cohesive, dynamic and sustainable recovery

2.- Support for innovation must be broader and carried out in a countercyclical manner, that is, if spending on business innovation falls, governments must make an effort to counteract this effect by investing in promoting innovation, even increasing public debt. 

In addition, some interesting conclusions from the GII 2021 report that Soumitra points out to us are: 

  • R&D expenditures were more resilient during the pandemic-related economic recession than in previous recessions. 
  • The effects of the crisis have been very uneven across sectors, as shown by the new Global Innovation Tracker
  • Companies with products including software, Internet and communications technologies, hardware and electrical equipment industry, and pharmaceuticals and biotechnology expanded their investments in innovation and increased their R&D efforts. On the contrary, companies in sectors strongly affected by the containment measures of the pandemic and whose business models are based on face-to-face activities, such as transport and travel, reduced their outlays. 
  • Venture capital investments in innovation increased by 5.8% in 2020, exceeding the average growth rate of the last ten years. Soumitra highlights that it is mainly due to growth in Asia, since venture capital investments in the US and Europe have decreased slightly. 
  •  The publication of scientific articles worldwide increased by 7.6% in 2020. 
  • The pandemic is accelerating the geographic shift of innovation activities from North America and Europe to Asia. 

Innovation in Spain 

Finally, we asked Soumitra how he sees innovation in Spain. He tells us that Spain is very well positioned and that the different indicators are well balanced. The good position in Infrastructure (position 13) and the quality of Spanish talent stand out. According to Soumitra, Spain could approach countries like Germany (position 10) or France (position 11), making strong investments in three areas: 

  • Universities, with training programs more focused on the most demanded profiles now and in the future 
  • R&D 
  • Ecosystems and clusters’ creation that connect universities, companies and entrepreneurs 

Putting a lot of focus on: 

  • High technology 
  • Biology and biotechnology 

In addition to talking about GII 2021, we asked Soumitra about his new book, The world after Covid-19: Insights from 20 Global Business School Deans and Corporate Leaders, a collection of interviews with 20 global experts published by the Global Business School Network (GBSN), of which Soumitra is President. 

In the book, the experts contribute their ideas and reflections on some topics of maximum interest and current relevance, such as: 

  • Human -and Humane- Leadership 
  • Teaching with tech  
  • Globalization vs turning inward 

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Soumitra Dutta
Soumitra Dutta

Trustee of Bankinter Foundation and Professor of Operations, Technology and Information Management in Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

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