March 1, 2022

Future Proof chart of the week: the innovation investment gap

Three quarters of companies say innovation is a top priority but in Europe only 40% of businesses invest enough in it. Why is there this gap?

Maija Palmer

2 min read

 More companies are saying that innovation is important to them — but it seems there is a gap between rhetoric and what happens when it comes opening up the purse strings.

Around 75% of companies surveyed by global advisory firm Boston Consulting Group in their 2021 global innovation report said that innovation was in their top 3 corporate priorities. That was a 10 percentage point increase from the previous year and the largest jump in the 15-year history of BCG doing this study.

This seems like good news until you dig a little deeper.  When BCG asked if innovation efforts were well resourced both in terms of financial investment and talent — only around 40% of European innovation executives said this was the case.


It is particularly concerning when you look at geographical comparisons — corporations in Europe are trailing other regions. Organisations in India and China lead the pack and have less of a gap between the stated prioritisation of innovation, and backing it up with investment. The US takes third place on the podium, with innovation prioritisation only slightly ahead of Europe at 75% vs 73%, but commitment scoring higher at 52% versus Europe’s 40%.

This raises a couple of questions for us – and we’d love to hear your thoughts:

  • Is this just the age-old problem of innovation being seen as important but not urgent?
  • Even if so, what’s holding European firms back relative to their peers in India and China?
  • What steps can innovation executives take to close the gap between prioritisation and investment? What conversations should they be having, and with whom?
  • If innovation leaders can't internally push this change, should external stakeholders — non-executive directors, analysts, fund managers and investors —  challenge executives to invest more in innovation?

Tell us what you think in the comments below, we'd love to hear your thoughts.