State of Innovation 2020


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As the coronavirus pandemic has led to shelter-in-place orders and sharply reduced economic activity around the world, innovators are wondering about what the future could look like for their teams, organizations, and industries. And they are feeling new pressures.

To better understand what's happening in corporate innovation and R&D right now, we fielded a survey from April 27-May 4, 2020. We heard from 112 respondents, 71 percent of them in organizations with more than 1,000 employees.

We found that teams are facing significant changes to innovation priorities, including providing an increased amount of support to the core business. While some innovators have been subject to layoffs and furloughs, innovation-related hiring freezes and budget cuts were more common. Teams have also had to quickly adapt to virtual ways of working due to stay-at-home advisories.

But some organizations are looking at the crisis as an opportunity to build for the future: “We are well positioned to go on the offense. Uncertainty creates opportunity for innovation,” one respondent in the financial services industry told us.

Download the slide deck for more data that can help you understand how strategies have changed and the best ways to prove value at this critical juncture. Members can also access a narrated video overview of the deck.

This report was produced by Innovation Leader, with support from Highline Beta.

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Sample Data 

Top ten industries represented in our survey:


Data on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted innovation priorities:


Table of Contents

Executive Summary 2

About the Survey 3

The Shift in Innovation Priorities 4

How Priorities are Changing, in Respondents’ Own Words 5

Tapping the Brakes: Hiring Freezes, Budget Cuts, and Other Responses 7

Crisis Leading to Only Limited Resource Reallocation 8

Crisis is Driving Limited Budget Reductions in 2020, Optimism for 2021 9

2020 Budget Realities, in Respondents’ Own Words 10

2021 Budget Expectations, in Respondents’ Own Words 11

What’s Getting Started...Continuing...Stopping? 12

On the Front Burner: Core Business Growth 14

Asks of Senior Leadership Remain the Same 15