We have much discussed, and we keep on doing so, about Italian enterprises’ scarce capability of generating innovation, of developing organic plans that consider research and the need of lavishing the necessary budget in it as a priority. In other words, of deeming innovation as a factor of which to take care systematically and not only when we have the feeling that some new good ideas might become a driving factor to gain competitiveness and market shares.
It is recognized that this is due to the fabric itself of Italian enterprises, characterized by a relevant presence of family-owned small-medium enterprises, with all those strong and weak points that this involves and, especially, with all the troubles connected with finding the resources to keep pace with the R&D of the main competitors, often part of big industrial groups.
According to this policy, it is important to be able to seize all funding opportunities that are proposed, from regional contributions, with rules and budgets that vary from region to region, to national financing, coping with state budget problems that we all know, up to European programmes. And just the latter represent an outstanding chance for innovation, both in terms of support entity and of quality, since we can be involved in networks and consortia that generally result in important growth opportunities. Italy, in the old and by now ended Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) was among the first Countries benefitting from the European funds concerning both the number of projects in which it took part and allocated funds.
New and even greater opportunities are coming with the by now imminent starting of the new research programme of the European Union, Horizon 2020, whose launch, with the first “Calls”, is today on the finishing line and scheduled not later than the very first months of next year.
The budget for the programme will exceed, on the whole, 80 billion Euros and will allow those who will submit winning projects to attain important results.
In comparison with the previous programmes, the fund allocation criteria will be rationalized; they will favour excellences and they will avoid the competence duplication, with the consequent fragmentation of available funds.
The programme structure is devised to boost, on one hand, the training of players at local level, able to take part in European projects, on the other hand to favour the market capability of transposing the outcomes of researches. All “top” sectors will take advantage of it: from aeronautics to automotive, from nanotechnologies to bio-engineering, environment and so on. And small and medium enterprises will be one of the focuses in Horizon 2020, especially if they will succeed in creating the right connections with universities and research centres. It is advisable not to wait and instead to act in time, getting information about the structure of the various calls and the first expiries, in order to be ready for the appointment and to reap the full benefits that such programme promises. If we are able to organize, the Made in Italy will highly benefit from that!