In the context of technology R&D and digital transformation projects, soft finance offers companies a very interesting vehicle to accelerate the innovation process. Here is a brief overview to start navigating the topic.
More and more often these days we talk about innovation, technologies, artificial intelligence, blockchain and many other obscure keywords for the entrepreneur and the executive. So while there is an increasingly settled interest in these topics, the opposite effect of scaring away the potential stakeholder is created because they are in fact, very often, ignoring the central themes on which technology and digital projects move.
It has its own logic. The entrepreneur and the executive often have other higher-level tasks and delegate to emerging figures in the world of work as CIO (Chief Information officer) or CDO (Chief digital officer) or even the innovation manager the task of following this sphere of business development.
In Italy, Industry 4.0 incentives aim to reduce this cultural and spending gap. Specifically, research and development (R&D) is generally used to indicate that part of an industrial company (people, means and financial resources), which is dedicated to the study of technological innovation to be used to improve its products, create new ones, or improve production processes.1
It is estimated that the ratio of GDP to R&D investment worldwide averages 3%, the European ratio is around 2% and the Italian ratio is under 1.5%. It is no coincidence that companies such as Google or Volkswagen invest more in research and development than Italy.2.
Precisely because of this difference in level, the quality of Made in Italy and the peculiarities of the Italian entrepreneurial fabric (made up of small and medium-sized enterprises), interesting conditions have been created in Italy to encourage innovation.
This scenario has created the conditions for SMEs to create real innovation (through technology) by recovering up to 100% of the investment they make, thanks to the available tools
What is innovative in technology?
Very often we fall into the trap of believing that certain digital and technological areas can be considered innovative, for example:
You CANNOT talk about technological innovation:
- Development of a digital strategic plan
- Development of a website / e-commerce
- Development of digital communication
- Implementation of system tools (CRM, Administrative etc)
- Implementation of digital tools (Advanced Analytics, IoT, CMS etc)
- Development of an online marketing plan (online advertising, SEO etc)
YOU CAN talk about technological innovation:
- Definition of a business unit based on innovative technology
- Prototyping a product from scratch (IoT, Advanced Analytics, AI etc)
- Studies on complex IoT systems for the optimization of business processes
- Evolutionary (technology-based) plans for existing products
- Prototyping of models and products to be subsequently placed on the market
It is not easy to understand clearly when we can talk about innovation. Therefore, it remains of great importance to interact with companies operating in the digital and technological sector in order to avoid falling into errors both of definition (what do we innovate?) and of grounding (how do we do it?).
Perspectives between SMEs and Startups
For the companies This is an extremely interesting opportunity because it allows, in case you are interested in the grounding of innovative projects to create innovative assets in the company that could in time prove to be fundamental for the evolution of the company. Moreover, without going to touch the core processes of the company go to recover, through the instruments of subsidized finance, the investment.
For the startup technology is an equally interesting opportunity because it allows you to bring to market the technological know-how available and therefore, in addition to providing skills and products, the non-trivial possibility of increasing turnover.
Fundamental to the latter, not only for survival, but for continuous improvement of the company structure and solutions.
SMEs and startups have a great opportunity to create value together that can concretely favour the growth of the Italian entrepreneurial fabric.