DALIAN: Innovative companies will grow significantly faster than others, according to a new study, which also highlights that innovation is not restricted to products and services but also encompasses areas such as customer experience.

Consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed 1,757 C-suite and executive-level respondents responsible for overseeing innovation within their company across more than 25 countries and 30 sectors for their report Breakthrough Innovation and Growth – your $500 million opportunity.

It found that the top 20% of innovators worldwide predicted their growth rate over the next five years would be double the global average and three times higher than that of the least innovative companies.

In total, the world's most innovative companies expected to grow by more than 60% over the next five years, adding a total of more than $250bn in new revenues, thanks to innovations in all areas of their operations. Comparable figures for the least innovative were 21% growth and $93bn revenues.

David Percival, PwC's Global Client Innovation Leader, said that "innovation has gone mainstream", as he noted how the world had changed over the past five years.

Once, businesses regarded expanding into China as their most important route to growth. "Now, companies see that innovation presents them with greatest potential for growth," he declared.

Well-developed strategies were vital to ensuring successful innovation. Nearly 80% of top innovators said they had such plans in place, compared with less than half of among the least innovative companies.

Another aspect that emerged in the study was the value of collaboration with both internal and external partners. And the most innovative companies used social media more often to collaborate externally: 67% vs. 39%.

The top tier of innovators identified came from diverse sectors and territories, from healthcare to automotive to financial services, and from India, to the Netherlands and Brazil.

"Business leaders must understand that there are already innovation pioneers in their industry and around the world," said Rob Shelton, PwC's Global Innovation Strategy Leader. "Leaders must be ready to step up to disruptive challenges from their more innovative competitors."

Data sourced from PwC; additional content by Warc staff