41 percent of SMEs do not take innovation seriously

Many small and medium-sized entities think that they could do completely without innovations. This finding which is alarming with regard to the competitiveness of German companies was brought to light by a Forsa survey among more than 500 companies with up to 1000 employees. Thus, 41 percent of those questioned consider the pressure on their company to develop innovative products to be „virtually zero”, whereas another eight percent think that this pressure is low. Only 23 percent believe that there is a strong necessity for innovation, while 28 percent feel it to be medium.
According to the survey commissioned by the “impulse” (edition 11/2006) economic magazine and SAP, in most companies the innovation potential of employees is either used to a limited extent only or not at all. Thus, in 19 percent of companies staff rarely comes up with suggestions for improvement. The most important reason for this may be -according to 24 percent of company leaders- the fact that innovations are of no relevance to everyday business. About half of all entrepreneurs operating in the domestic market think that clients above all expect them to offer products of constant quality. Only one fifth of these entrepreneurs believe that there is a need for new or improved products.
A completely different attitude towards innovation is, according to the study, adopted by those companies which operate on foreign markets. Thus, about two thirds (65 percent) of SME leaders operating internationally hold the opinion that innovations will give them a competitive edge on their competitors, in particular on those from low-wage countries.
Particularly successful is the innovation management of those companies cultivating contact with scientific and research circles. Thus, two thirds of companies committed to innovation have already established co-operations with e.g. universities. About one third (34 percent) of these companies said that decisive ideas for new products had been generated from this very type of co-operation.
Additional findings of the Forsa survey are available on the internet. GERMAN