Public sector and investors, essential in the innovative ecosystem of European companies

The European “Industrial Innovation in Transition” (IIT) project involved 700 companies from 11 European countries to analyse their innovation activities. ZABALA took part in examining the best innovation practices in the EU. The results were presented at the "New models of innovation in European industry" conference hosted by the Center for Industrial Technological Development.

Europe's most innovative companies have extensive systems of innovation which are not limited to members of their value chain (customers and suppliers), but also include public bodies, investors, regulators and policymakers. This is one of the main conclusions of the European project "Industrial Innovation in Transition" presented at the Center for Industrial Technological Development (Centro para el Desarrollo Technologico Industrial) in the framework of the conference "New models of innovation in European industry", by its director general, Francisco Marín.

ZABALA Innovation Consulting participates together with a consortium of European partners in the IIT project, in which the innovation practices of 700 companies from 11 European countries (Finland, Estonia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria, the Czech, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal) and 5 industrial sectors (ICT, manufacturing, biopharmaceutical and clean technologies) were analysed. ZABALA interviewed 90 companies from Spain.

In addition to giving increasing importance to the innovative ecosystem, the study that compiles the interviews points to other characteristics such as the increasing importance of the client-oriented innovation model, the effectiveness and efficiency of web tools, and the recognition of the key role of Big Data, and of the Internet of Things. However, the model adoption is still far from technological possibilities offered: 47% of all companies in the ICT sector use Big Data to a high degree, followed by Clean technologies (32%) and biopharmaceutical (29%).

Most of the companies interviewed are also identified with the Open Innovation model, which clearly indicates that they rely more and more on external companies to increase their level of innovation. Monitoring the evolution of the environment by mapping policies and regulations remains the most widely used system.

On the other hand, the most frequent model in innovation management remains the so-called “stage-gate” model after the approval of an initial idea.

With regard to trends in public policies in Europe in support of innovation, there is a need to support businesses so that they can respond to the major changes of digitalisation and industry 4.0 that are and will be fundamental for future competitiveness. Private-public cooperation will be fundamental to face these challenges, especially for SMEs that will need strong support from the administration, attracting private capital to invest in their innovative projects.

Some of the most important barriers to innovation are listed below: access to finance (341), lack of capacity (334), regulation (291), access to markets (232), access to knowledge ( 21), establishment of alliances, standards, intellectual property, and others.

Recommendations for new policies to support innovation

Some of the conclusions that have been drawn after the analysis of the interviews carried out are the following:

- Customers are increasingly becoming innovation partners. In terms of innovation support policies, it should take into account the interaction between supply and demand for innovation. This interaction, moreover, will occur through networks and platforms, and support measures are not yet designed for this path; the consumer / citizen will increasingly play a more important role, as is demonstrated by the role they play through social networks.

- Sectoral nature of collaborative innovation. For this reason, it is recommended to promote sectoral aids based on the Intelligent Specialization Strategies of each region. In any case, state policies should be oriented toward basic capabilities.

- New needs for technical and management skills. There are differentiated needs according to sectors, and there is a growing demand for profiles from scientific backgrounds oriented towards the management and analysis of massive information.


Industrial Innovation in Transition

Through the European Industrial Innovation in Transition project, funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Programme, the aim is to present new trends in innovation, as expressed by a very large sample of the most innovative European companies, As well as providing information to companies in general to help them focus their innovation strategy, an overview of the needs of companies in terms of support for innovation to Administrations, and methodological tools to make the work done in the project can be replicated in other countries and regions.

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