As companies leave the worst of the global recession behind them and economies with the help of stimulus packages from their respective governments are starting to pick up again there is acceleration in R&D and innovation as well. News and blog posts in the innovation realm look positive with more frequent stories of spending on R&D is gradually picking up. Reports suggested that investment on R&D during the recession did increase even during the recession although at a lower rate than previous years. This post by Mark J Perry titled Despite Recession, Innovation Is Alive and Well. In the post Mark reveals
“In the face of a severe global recession, the world’s 1,000 largest publicly traded corporate research and development spenders increased R&D budgets in 2008, affirming the critical importance of innovation to their corporate strategies, according to Booz & Company’s Global Innovation 1000, the global management consulting firm’s fifth annual analysis of global innovation spending. R&D spending at these firms rose 5.7% in 2008, a slower rate of growth than the prior year’s 10% increase, but in line with the group’s 6.5% increase in worldwide sales. More than two-thirds of the companies included in this year’s Global Innovation 1000 maintained or increased R&D spending in 2008, even though a third of the companies reported a financial loss for the year.
However during the downturn almost every business had to look into it’s processes and make changes that would help see them through this rough financial period and whatever those changes were, they are not likely to go away in the near future. Mergers and Acquisitions in IP picked up as many smaller firms facing closure had their IP up for sale. While some large businesses were also looking at trimming their patent portfolios others with a larger cash reserves were busy aggregating portfolios that were valuable and available for pennies to the dollar. Many IP departments were forced to look at operational efficiencies and as to how they can save time and cost and achieve better output. Innovation and R&D are no exceptions to this. Although organizations know that innovation is key to secure future success and will continue to invest in R&D, they are also likely to continue to look for ways to improve their R&D processes and innovate smart rather than by pouring capital into it.
Smarter innovation practices can be through using online collaboration platforms and getting customers more involved in the process. It can be through seeking strategic partnerships with other organizations working towards similar technologies to share R&D costs and speed up efforts. It could be through improving patent information sharing systems and having access to better information, making smarter, better calculated decisions and avoiding mistakes that can cost time and money. The possibilities are plenty. What is left to do is find out how to innovate smarter and strengthen the process from the inside and make it more efficient. After all innovation needs to work towards creating revenue and advantages for the business and not be perceived as a cost center or financial black hole.
Perhaps the recession in many ways helped organizations pause and take a look at how they were functioning and pushed everyone to seek improved ways to go about it. Though the pressure has eased, hopefully, the will to keep improving and making R&D more efficient will not fade away too quickly.