Only 44 percent of Irish CEOs believe that their organisation connects in a beneficial way with start-ups. Meanwhile 70 percent of their global peers see a beneficial connection.
Anna Scally, KPMG’s Head of Technology and Media believes that this highlights a missed opportunity for Irish businesses – regardless of scale. Anna also highlights the need for greater public recognition of the value of linkages between the two areas - a principle supported by both Enterprise Ireland and the IDA and she cites the KPMG supported American Chamber of Commerce Innovation Awards as an example of how to promote this approach: “This year a specific award was made for linkages between domestic business and the multinational sector and we’re very pleased that this will continue in 2017. Initiatives to showcase domestic talent to Irish multinational CEOs and their teams are invaluable – and we need more opportunities to prove the worth of such linkages.”
Areas such as FinTech are good examples of where significant potential exists. According to Anna Scally: “We have seen a big increase in the level of collaboration between financial institutions and FinTech players. That is driving huge behavioural changes and it’s extremely positive to see companies working together in this area.”
Innovation and collaboration also bring people and talent benefits. For Irish CEOs (32 percent) and global CEOs (36 percent) providing the opportunity to innovate and work in an entrepreneurial or collaborative environment is important for employee retention.
Over two thirds (68 percent) of Irish CEOs believe it is important to include innovation in business strategy with clear targets and objectives. However, less than half (48 percent) say it’s important to have a formal process to generate or source ideas when compared with their global peers (74 percent). “Driving successful innovation begins with culture and leadership,” says Niall Campbell, KPMG’s Head of Innovation. “Only when the organisation is focussed can innovation be successful. However, as our research tends to indicate - it is one thing to aspire to innovation, quite another to make it happen.”
Campbell highlights specific objectives such as embedding new innovation capability, supporting creativity and behavioural change and actively managing innovation initiatives as being vital if innovation is to make a commercial impact. “It takes time, effort and investment to deliver a high-quality output. Experimentation with different ingredients is also necessary if you want to produce something new.” Campbell also emphasises collaboration as one of the ways to stimulate innovation. However, he notes that only just over half (52 percent) of Irish CEOs rank collaboration with external parties as somewhat or very important when compared to 76 percent of CEOs internationally.
Our survey also checked CEO attitudes to collaborative efforts with third level institutions. Just under half (44 percent) of Irish CEOs consider it in some way important to connect with thrid level colleges in order to foster innovation - below the 74 percent global average. Niall Campbell says: “It’s really important to highlight the good work being done at third level in Ireland and to highlight role models and success stories.” He believes that collaboration between CEOs and third level institutions to develop innovative skills is essential when Irish universities are under pressure in terms of comparative global rankings. “If we want an improvement in this situation third level institutions need to engage even further with the business community and vice versa. This can help both in securing additional capital and in ensuring graduates emerge with the necessary skills for the market.”
Campbell acknowledges that CEOs have many competing objectives but he is optimistic that most Irish business also see the benefits of driving innovation through external relationships. “Overall, there is evidence of an emerging innovation ecosystem which facilitates collaboration between businesses, producers, consumers, academia, government, investors and service providers. Tapping into this ecosystem can be a fruitful exercise as the answers to the innovation challenge aren’t all found internally.”