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Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Intensifying Global Race For R&D

Recently came across this series India’s rise as an R&D hub. Technology companies must first win the battle for R&D talentbefore they can win the battle for market share. The cliché that "the company's most valuable assets walk out the door each night" has never been truer. Time and time again, companies with the best R&D talent win the battle for market dominance. Companies ranging from unproven tech start-ups to Silicon Valley giants are now trolling campuses in search of the best talentin the world. Much as GEis considered a top recruiting ground for future CEO candidates, companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and IBM are among the top places to recruit top technology talent. With China looming in the distance as a competitive threat in the tech sector, companies realize that they must recruit at Microsoft and Google just as they once recruited at General Electric. From a macroeconomic perspective, it is clear that R&D spending matters. The U.S. spends 2.59% of its GDP on R&D, while the European Union designates a relatively paltry 1.93% of its GDP to scientific and technological development. China, by comparison, spends only 1.3% of its GDP on R&D spending. Clearly, countries (like companies) can only become leaders in a global knowledge-based economy by paying more attention to innovation and creativity. With that in mind, both Europe and China are trying to catch up with the U.S. by increasing their R&D spending. More than just pouring millions of dollars into R&D initiatives, companies must adopt a comprehensive view of talent that places a premium on the ability to come up with new ideas and new business approaches. The fact that R&D talent is in such demand is perhaps not so surprising, considering the potential impact that creativity and innovation could have on the next round of global economic development. As Daniel Pink, shows in his new book. "A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age," the key competitive differentiator in the coming years will be the ability of companies to tap into right-brain thinking. Factors like creativity, intuitiveness and design will be more highly prized than linear, analytical thinking. Being able to see the whole picture will be more important than being able to crunch numbers. By moving their talent to the front lines in the R&D war, companies are able to integrate their talent strategy with their business strategy, giving them the best chance to leverage the innovative thinking of their best researchers.

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