Prof. Dr. Max von Zedtwitz: 6 Myths of Global Innovation

In his inspirational lecture Prof. Dr. Max von Zedtwitz, GLORAD Center for Global R&D and innovation, talked about the myths of Global Innovation. He emphasized that, in order to build an European industry that is fit for the future, opportunities should be approached with an open and smart attitude. It is crucial “to embrace one’s smartness and let it be accepted by society” in order to create a smart industry in Europe.  

Max von Zedtwitz during his speech on Industrial Technologies

Myth 1: The World is Flat

Location matters! The world of innovation is not flat but ‘spiky’. Six countries account for the origin of all global R&D and going into only 17 countries worldwide; it is all about the game between coordination and location.

Myth 2: Strong IP Regimes Matter

There is a global shift of R&D location to countries with a low IP. The world highest patent applications are currently in China. The defensibility of IP is therefore very questionable and other ways to defend innovations should be considered.

Myth 3: We No Longer Matter

Nine of the 15 most inventive cities are in Europe and many new R&D centres are established in Europe BRIC and other countries are still relatively unimportant  in the global flow of  cross-border R&D investments.  The majority of cross-border R&D flows between Europe, United States and Japan. And these countries are also still the home for the top-performing universities and prize winning researchers.

Myth 4: One size fits all

Companies organise their R&D in many different ways, from no collaboration  to much collaboration and from home based to highly international. And approaches change of time and in different directions. These is no one size fits all approach for organizing R&D.

Myth 5: Emerging Market Companies compete on Cost Only

It is true that the emerging market companies have a cost competing advantage, though now that China has surpassed the EU’s net Contributor to Global R&D balance, that is not the only advantage they have. Chinese industry is no longer copying; they are innovating.

Myth 6: Thank Goodness, we are safe here!

We should not expect that China stays away from us. China has the largest brain-drain in the world with 700,000 students abroad every year and not all are returning to China. The highest growth in patent filing comes from China and Chinese R&D centres are spreading around the world.

Quote from Max von Zedtwitz