Insight & Analysis

Press release: Three-in-ten businesses have failed to innovate during pandemic

Published: Sep 2021

Businesses must take care to keep up with changes in the market as the pandemic has prevented 31 per cent of businesses from innovating, according to research released today by Ayming Group, the business performance consultancy specialising in innovation.

Newspaper press release

The third annual International Innovation Barometer (IIB) – based on a survey of 585 senior executives – reveals an air of confidence regarding Research & Development (R&D). Most businesses are proud of how they have reacted to the pandemic, with 36 per cent saying they have successfully innovated to make minor adjustments to their business, whereas one-in-four say they have fully adapted to seize Covid-19 related opportunities.

However, businesses must be wary of disruption. It’s clear that the pandemic has accelerated innovation in most markets, as agreed by 82 per cent of businesses, with a quarter of all firms saying that this acceleration has been drastic. Despite this, 69 per cent believe they are innovating enough to keep up with the changes in their market. Confidence which may be misplaced.

This raises the danger of complacency. Not only are markets more open to disruption, but R&D departments face a growing number of challenges. Budgets, for example, are much more uncertain and there are growing concerns about a talent shortage, both of which are contributing to a failure of almost a third of firms to innovate during the pandemic. Those who are not innovating are at a disadvantage and could be left behind.

Mark Smith, Partner of Innovation Incentives at Ayming UK, says: “The gap is widening between those who have prioritised innovation and those who haven’t. We know Covid-19 has completely shaken up whole industries and economies. It has simultaneously created the perfect environment for disruption while creating challenges for R&D teams and businesses. This research reveals an unbalanced reaction.

“Unfortunately, it has made it very difficult to know how much R&D will be enough. The secretive nature of R&D means businesses don’t know what disruptive forces are emerging in their sector. However, a crisis like Covid-19 will always lead to the emergence of new, forward-thinking propositions. We can already see new start-ups and services emerging, and there is likely plenty more to come.”

The pandemic has, however, provided some positive learnings for firms to take forward and it has caused companies to think differently. Reflecting on the pandemic, 82 per cent of businesses agree that the pandemic has demonstrated that a business must be able to identify and react to opportunities, and 76 per cent agree that the pandemic has proved how important it is to innovate during a crisis.

The report – available to download here – takes a dive into international R&D, with insights and statistics across three sections, including The Innovation Landscape, Financing Innovation, and Innovating in a Crisis. This sheds a light on how businesses have reacted to the pandemic, including rapidly adjusting R&D priorities to focus on the short term and streamlining activity by keeping resources in-house. Key statistics can be found in the executive summary.

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