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Technology Forum 2017


At the annual meeting of The European House Ambrosetti, a study involving key players from a variety of sectors, finance, research, enterprise and institutions was illustrated

Massimo Fellini - Startupitalia!

Are you surprised to discover that our researchers are the best in the world for number of times they are mentioned and research productivity? Do you know that in 2016, Italy gained 20 positions in terms of tax incentives to support research and innovation? Yet when it comes to investments (both public and private) and large-scale progress, our country struggles to emerge in the international community. And this is a huge problem because studies clearly confirm the direct relationship between levels of innovation, labor productivity and gross domestic product growth.


Technology Forum researches : inno-tech 2017 report

At the 19th Annual Forum, organized by The European House Ambrosetti, on Friday May 19,  the current national economic system was discussed during the 2017Technology Forum, producing an analytic framework and setting priorities for the immediate future. Now in its 6th edition, the Forum was held in the Superstudiopiù area in Milan with the title 'The Next Revolution': understanding exactly where our country stands among the most important players in the world of research and development. Among the tools used is the InnoTech 2017 report, updated with the Ambrosetti Innosystem Index and Ambrosetti Regional Inno System Index, which measure the performance of Italy as a whole as well as its individual regions in the international arena, followed by a Survey on current new Trends on innovation in the country.


Open Innovation, Industry 4.0 and the future of the labor market 

"NextRevolution" describes the ongoing changes, the archetypes of production and consumption as the impact technology will have, investigating its effects on the organization of society and new employment growth factors. The theme was thoroughly examined through the participation of almost thirty Italian and international speakers, according to the three key areas, Open Innovation, Industry 4.0 and the Future of the Labor Market, identified by the Innovation and Technology Community of The European House-Ambrosetti, made up of entrepreneurs and business managers.


Why so much hype about innovation? 

All the discussions and numbers considered during the Forum stem from a simple but fundamental question: why so much talk about innovation? Despite the complexities involved the answer is rather simple. Those who innovate grow and where there is growth there are better standards of living. High performance in research and innovation are inevitably associated with high growth rates. The countries that have understood the importance of the innovation-productivity-growth virtuous circle are the most competitive in the long-run and respond more effectively during times of economic recessions.

"We mapped 16 countries, filled up 27 multiple indicators, for a total of 4,500 comments. The data confirm the positive direct relationship between investments in research and development, growth in turnover, profits and employment" – said Valerio De Molli, Managing Director of the European House – Ambrosetti, opening the Forum's works, illustrating the data obtained by mapping the most important international economic ecosystems -. Research confirms a stark  improvement in efficiency and production effectiveness if investments are made in innovation. As far as Italy is concerned, in spite of some positive data (with record export figures in March worth 108 billion euro), we are struggling to stand out among the best economic systems we looked at. The total share of public and private investment is shrinking, as well as those coming from venture capital which are still too low. These trends must be reversed".

Italy is currently investing 1.3% of its GDP in research and development, while the most generous countries in this special ranking are Israel (4.3%) and South Korea (4.2%). Europe has set a rather ambitious 3% target by 2020. A further element in support of the positive role innovation has in the economic growth of businesses, is clearly based on a comparison between the turnover growth experienced by manufacturing firms which invest in innovation and the manufacturing sector as a whole: in fact, despite a slight increase in the manufacturing sector's turnover (+ 2%) over the 2012 – 2015 three-year period, the aggregate turnover of the “top spenders” was up by as much as 16%.


The results: a few significant figures 

Among the numerous and useful figures summarized in different surveys, the most significant found in the Innosystem Index were developed looking at a few high performing countries, plus Italy: Canada, Chile, South Korea, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Israel, United Kingdom, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Estonia, Spain, plus Italy.

Speaking of innovative economic systems, in terms of new ideas and their impact (number of patents per 1,000 inhabitants, exports from high-intensity research and development sectors and number of specific mentions per 1,000 researchers), Asia has the lion’s share with Singapore taking first place followed by South Korea and Switzerland respectively. Italy and Chile fill the last two positions. Moreover, Asian countries have the highest inclination towards patents, with South Korea and Japan, averaging 5.7 and 4.1 patents per thousand people still in their productive age. Italy does not even reach a single digit figure (0.24).


Exports, Singapore leading the pack

Exports of high intensity research and development sectors make up more than 30% of the total in Singapore, Israel and Switzerland, while Italy stays consistently below 10%. As far as human capital is concerned, namely qualified resources for research and development, even here Singapore gets the best score, followed by Germany and Israel; Unfortunately Italy and Chile are, once again, the least performing countries. Singapore still holds the highest number of graduates in technical and scientific subjects, almost a quarter of the total. Italy is at 7.9%, aligned with Sweden, while Chile and Japan trail the pack with 5%.

When we talk about financial support dedicated to innovation (public and private investment as well as venture capital) South Korea tops the ranking  and the United States has the highest level of Venture Capital development, followed by the UK, Canada, Singapore and Japan. Italy and Finland, on the other hand, are lagging way behind.

In all countries surveyed, public R & D investments are less than 1% of the GDP, while private ones are rather diversified: Israel and South Korea have invested 3% of their resources, Italy, Spain and Chile less than 1%. In addition, public and private investments in our country balance out at 0.59% and 0.74% respectively.


Innovation, the situation in Italy

As far as protecting the innovations produced and turning innovative business ideas into concrete products, the United States take the lead, followed by Singapore and the United Kingdom. Italy has the lowest score. Entrepreneurship thrives in the US where on average 35.57 businesses per 1,000 inhabitants are created. All other countries fail to reach 15.

The latest figure measures the ability of a country in attracting investments and new talents, capable of stimulating collaborative synergies with universities and businesses: Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Israel get the highest scores. Sweden, Chile, Italy and Japan close the standings. Germany confirms the strong link between the academic world and businesses with R&D share in industry-funded PhD courses taking 14%. Italy closed the standings with just 1.3%. Finally, the United Kingdom and Singapore attract the highest number of foreign university students, with net mobility rates of over 10%. In the latter ranking, Italy is positioned about halfway.


A Focus on Italian Startups

Our country has made great strides since the Law Decree 179/2012, so much so that Italian legislation is now an example for many other European countries. At the end of March 2017, the number of innovative startups registered in a special section of the Business Register amounted to 6,880, or 0.43% of the 1.6 million Limited Companies active in Italy. Lombardy is the region with the largest number of innovative startups (1,596, 23% of the total) followed by Emilia-Romagna (11%), Lazio (9,5%), Veneto (8,7 %) and Campania, which leads the south of the country with 471 startups (6.8%).

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