Innovation: What do you value?

Earthkeyboard After our post on the AstraZeneca survey on most innovative countries, we received the following question via Twitter from @ideapharma: “If ‘innovation means different things to different people,’ what's the point of asking 'which is the most innovative country?’”

Interesting and fair question (and you can see our brief conversation here).

The complexity of the answer may be found in a later question in the survey, in which we asked: What is the greatest achievement of the last 100 years or so? We found that different people in different places value different things, perhaps based on different needs and different experiences. And there was a marked regional divide in what people valued.

Respondents could choose from instant global communication; putting a man on the moon; doubling in global average lifespan; opening up of schooling and higher education opportunities; eradicating/improving survival rates of serious diseases; and slashing of journey times around the world.


For citizens of India, Japan and China, the greatest achievement in the last 100 years was instant global communication. It was favored most heavily in Japan (51 percent), followed by China (47 percent) and India (42 percent).

People in Britain (40 percent), Sweden (35 percent) and the United States (28 percent) were significantly more likely to mention the eradication of or improvement in survival rates of serious diseases (even though 33 percent of Americans gave the edge to global communications).

Other tidbits: Citizens of China were more impressed than any other nation with putting a man on the moon, with 18 percent selecting it as the greatest achievement (compared to 12 percent in the United States). And those surveyed in India viewed increased educational opportunities more favorably than others at 11 percent – roughly triple any other nation.

As AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan noted, “National differences strongly emerge from the research – whether competing opinions on what represents the greatest innovation of the past 100 years, or views on who will be the leading innovators in the future.”

The full survey can be found here. Earlier posts can be found here, here and here.

– By Tony Jewell