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Next disruptive technology breakthrough 'most likely to come out of US'

11 July 2013

Technology executives worldwide believe that the United States is the country most likely to come up with the next ‘disruptive technology breakthrough’.

This is the finding of the latest Global Technology Innovation survey by advisory firm KPMG, which surveyed 811 technology business leaders worldwide from technology industry start-ups, mid-sized to large enterprises, venture capital firms and angel investors in order to identify disruptive technologies, innovation trends, and the scope of change.

In a change from last year’s survey (when the US and China tied for top spot), 37 percent of the respondents said the United States shows the most promise for disruptive breakthroughs, while 24 percent cited China, and 10 percent predicted India, followed by Korea (7 percent), Japan (6 percent) and Israel (6 percent).  The UK was named by only 1 percent of respondents as a future hotspot for the next disruptive breakthrough and ranks number 9 in the list jointly with Russia.

Tudor Aw, KPMG Head of Technology Europe comments: “This survey shows that at the moment the global Tech Community does not see the UK as hotspot for future technology innovation. This underestimates the tremendous talent, creativity and favourable conditions we have in place. We need to do a better job of promoting Tech UK as a brand overseas so people understand all the strengths we have, as well as our existing world leading capability.

Good examples of this include graphene which is seen as a technology that will revolutionize the 21st century; two physicists from Manchester University won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in this field. Another example is our world leading companies in the field of semiconductor IP used in smart phones.”

Tech Innovation Confidence Index
This year the survey also introduces a confidence index gauging each country’s prospects for tech innovation. The index is based on tech leaders in each market rating their country on ten success factors including talent, infrastructure, incentives, and capital.  

India grabbed the country lead with an index of 72. The country’s technology leaders gave high marks for talent, mentoring, ability to drive customer adoption, technology breakthroughs, and technology infrastructure with the lowest rating reserved for government incentives.

Israel ranked second (71 points), while the US came third (65 index points). The UK reached 50 index points ranking 9th,  suggesting UK tech executives are generally less happy than tech executives in other leading economies about their access to key resources, such as capital, talent and tech infrastructure.

Access to talent and capital key but UK tech companies lag behind
In order to enable tech innovation the two factors most often cited by tech executives worldwide were availability of talent and access to capital. Asked about accessibility to key resources, UK executives seem less satisfied than their colleagues in other countries.

For example, only 44 percent of UK tech executives said that talent is sufficient accessible to them (India 75 percent, China 62 percent). 41 percent of UK executives said they that tech infrastructure is sufficiently accessible, compared to 67 percent in the US and 69 percent in India. And only 33 percent of UK executives thought they have sufficient access to funding compared with 78 percent in India.

UK tech executives also cast doubt on the ability of the UK’s education system to enable future innovation. Only 23 percent of UK respondents consider the education system to be successfully contributing to driving innovation, less than executives from all the other major economies surveyed. 

Tudor Aw comments: “A real area of concern continues to be education that is relevant for the tech sector, something that is increasingly been raised and debated. We need to ensure that sufficient resources are placed on relevant education that will support hard core technology innovation and development, not just how to utilise technology applications.”

However, UK companies are more optimistic about the sector’s outlook than many of their counterparts in other countries. Intentions to employ more staff is higher in the UK than either China or the US, with 16 percent of UK companies to hire at least 100 people in the next year (compared to 11 percent and 6 percent respectively.) Only tech companies based in India are seeking to hire more, with a quarter of companies intending to hire in the next 12 months. 

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