The wheel, the steam engine, the microchip: groundbreaking innovations have always been crucial milestones in the history of human economic activity. One key hallmark of such technologies is that they intellectually and technologically pave the way for a range of follow-up innovations for various applications. The result is a rapid increase in productivity and efficiency combined with perceptible changes in economic activity and even medium-term societal upheavals. This makes stimulators of innovation key drivers of long-term economic development and welfare improvements. Many experts believe that the global economy is on the brink of a new revolution that will be driven by innovation. In this case it is the networking of machines known as ‘digitisation’ that has been attributed revolutionary potential. Digitisation affects a number of different applications such as digital intelligence, robotics, cloud computing and 3D printing. The most significant direct consequences are the increasing decentralisation and flexibility of production processes. Simultaneously, 3D printing in particular could even transform the architecture of international trade, potentially causing the traditional advantages of commerce and locations such as amount of capital and resources to lose their significance.
Therefore, the primary focus of this year’s issue of the BDO International Business Compass is the capacity of countries for innovation.