Open Innovation in Italy: Where Are We?
by Alberto Onetti, Chairman, Mind the Bridge

2019_MTB_OIOutlookItaly2020_Report_coverInnovation is key to sustained corporate success.
Innovative firms grow twice as fast, both in employment and sales, compared to firms that fail to innovate. However, European and Italian companies invest less on innovation than their international competitors. One noticeable global trend over recent years has been an increasing move towards open innovation and, in particular, collaboration with startups. This is especially visible in high-tech industries where the rate of innovation is accelerated and where knowledge is distributed across multiple organizations, making it more difficult to innovate internally.
Done well, open innovation provides a route to scale for startups and scaleups, and an important means by which larger firms can innovate.
This is particularly important in Italy, where established companies have been gradually losing competitiveness, while startups are struggling to scale up.
Startup-corporate collaboration could help corporates to innovate and grow as well as help startups to get customers and turn into larger entities. At stake is the sustainability of the entire Italian industrial sector that, without innovation, is concretely at risk to be disrupted.
However, collaboration – across differences in size and culture – is difficult to get right.
That’s why it is important to understand how much open innovation and startup-corporate collaboration are concretely widespread in Italy. Our research aims at understanding whether Italian companies are open to innovation and how they compare with international innovation leaders.
In doing so, we implemented – across hundreds of Italian companies of different industries and size – the methodology Mind the Bridge has been adopting for a few years at international level to assess the “open innovation readiness” of established corporations. Such methodology measures both the internal factors enabling innovation (strategy, organization, processes, culture) as well as the concrete actions implemented and results achieved (such as startup acceleration, procurement, co-development, investments, acquisitions). The analysis shows – with a few exceptions – a substantial gap between the Italian companies and international innovation leaders.
Some might argue that the Italian ecosystem is evolving and showing a lot of progress.
Definitely a true statement.
Though our opinion is that Italy still moves too slow and needs to accelerate significantly.
Because in the current accelerated world of technology, moving slow equals to not moving at all.

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