PROCESS INNOVATION AND RATIONALISE. Interview with the President of the Treviso-Belluno Chamber of Commerce, Mario Pozza

Nevertheless, in the same Report Veneto Region ranks in the first quartile within the European territories referring to the effect of enterprises that implement innovations, both in the technology, in the market or in the organization.


Economy - published on 28 February 2017


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PROCESS INNOVATION AND RATIONALISE
Interview with the President of the Treviso-Belluno Chamber of Commerce, Mario Pozza
February 16th 2017

Let us talk about innovation, Mr. President. How is the situation in Veneto Region and how is it perceived?

How the research commissioned by Unioncamere Veneto to the Padua University has put in evidence, it is not a value recognized by statistics to our companies.
In the last issue of the Innovation Report in 2016, we rank just as “moderate innovators”, because an indicator summarizes the diverse variables that measure the capacity of a system to be
innovative
Nevertheless, in the same Report Veneto Region ranks in the first quartile within the European territories referring to the effect of enterprises that implement innovations, both in the
technology, in the market or in the organization
. Under this aspect, we are then aligned to the main north-European regions.
The variables that penalize us are: expenditure in Research&Development (public and private), the formal cooperation agreements for innovation, the
local availability of infrastructures for innovation, the level of formal education of the human capital (rate of graduates, etc.).
According to this Report, Veneto Region presents yes enterprises that implement innovations, but without proper research. Innovation is mostly based on unstructured empirical learning
processes.
The research of Padua University attempted to verify on field if such conclusions were correct. Two hundred manufacturing companies with 20 to 250 employees operating in Veneto were
interviewed.
The results show that 89% of the interviewed companies present staff who specifically deal with innovation, even if 2/3 of them do not operate within a dedicated Research&Development
area
.
A good part of the employees who generate innovation in the company work in other departments or roles.
For this reason, the indicator about the innovation capacity of a company or territory underestimates the presence of enterprises, especially small and medium, with a good innovation performance,
even if it is not sustained by an internal R&D area.
Moreover, where a R&D department is present, and there is consequently a specific financial and human resources investment for innovation, this department remains definitely small.
These departments are composed in average by less than 3 persons (2,86 in the considered sample). Nevertheless, to these three employees formally dedicated to innovation, we have to add at least 3
persons who generate innovation from other company’s areas.
By considering this, the impact of dedicated staff to innovation (formally or informally) increases at 17% on the total of the enterprise’s personnel.


Which importance play the innovation supply chains?

The Venetian companies make innovation not only with internal resources, but also with external ones. I am talking about the so defined “open innovation” model that we have when an enterprise
belongs to a larger network performing innovation.
Well, all the interviewed companies with a R&D department and almost all (98%) the enterprises without an innovation department, but with dedicated staff, they are plunged in a more or
less large partnership network, formal or informal, and through it they develop innovative activities, in particular with equipment, raw materials and services suppliers, but also with
customers
. Much less, unfortunately, with university departments, that penalize us in the statistics that evaluate the “regional systems for innovation”.
Such use of external resources for innovation does not replace, but is collateral to the internal activities. Taking into consideration this, we understand that there is a formal-informal
research activity, in particular technical, which flows along all the supply chain, parallel to the current business
, from the most part nourishing from it and in the best cases
contributing in defining the evolution trajectories with relevant impacts.
This is then the innovation model mostly performed by the Venetian enterprises, which eludes the international statistics and which deserves to be recognized.
Initiatives like these, my dear Luciano, they help to make this model evident, and policy makers have to look at this “practiced innovation model”.


Which are the critical points of this system?

If within the companies supply chain a strategic vision on the most relevant change factors influencing the future fails, the innovation plunged it the supply chain risks to be shortsighted.
Making an example. How we can innovate today the household supply chain without thinking about the irreversible ageing population process?
Moreover, as we have seen, the weak link of this innovation model remains the relationship enterprise-university. In Veneto Region, we are talking about a single university pole,
but there is still a lot to work so that there is a real dialogue between enterprises and university research. This would give really a relevant acceleration to the innovation processes.
Lastly, if we can say that we are good in making product and process innovation and that we have learnt performing also organizational innovation, we are still weak in marketing innovation.
In the analyzed sample, just an enterprise in two performs innovation in such field, with final results which are lower that the strictly technological investments.
Therefore we can say that in Veneto there is innovation, and we have it thanks to the enterprises, the supply chains created with third actors, first of all suppliers and customers.
Nevertheless, we know that markets are becoming more complex, the social economy imposes new rules, the product and service life cycles are always faster.
It is required to sustain a world recognized technical capacity with commercial intelligence at the same level.

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