More than 25% of Catalan companies invest in R&D
Catalonia Trade and Investment’s Innovation Barometer presented on Wednesday shows innovation in Catalonia is growing
“Business innovation is fundamental for a country’s competitiveness and to boost the internationalization of an economy”
Joan Romero · ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade and Investment’s CEO
According to ACCIÓ’s CEO Joan Romero, when it comes to R&D in innovation “it is more difficult because there is a higher risk associated, but this is what allows companies to move on disruptively. This is where there are more entry barriers and that this number is increasing is important.” Thus, Romero emphasized the importance of “the public incentive” for these projects and he underlined the budgetary effort from the Catalan government which, though ACCIÓ, allocated 43.3 million euros in business innovation grants in 2017, eight million euros more than last year. In addition, 20 million euros are set aside for the Technology Center of Catalonia, Eurecat. “Business innovation is fundamental for a country’s competitiveness and to boost the internationalization of an economy,” stated ACCIÓ’s CEO.
More turnover, more jobs, more exports
The Innovation Barometer is a pioneer exercise in Catalonia, since it is a step forward in the mechanisms for evaluating the innovation of international companies, as it includes the intangible elements of innovation. As a result, the Barometer finds that more than half of Catalan companies (54.6%) innovated in 2016, following the upward trend. Companies invest in innovation to improve the productivity process, the product or service and the method of organization. For Romero, “innovation is intrinsically related to the market concept, and if the company does not invest, it can be left outside.”
Innovation has a clear impact on the competitiveness of Catalan companies, according to the study. Some 80.3% of Catalan companies that innovated expect to increase their turnover in 2017, whereas 64.1% hope to improve their productivity. Meanwhile, 45.9% hope to lower their average costs and 35.6% aim to increase staff numbers. Moreover, 74.4% of the innovating firms invested in training their employees in aspects related to innovation. At the same time, the Barometer shows that 53.7% of companies that innovate are also exporters, whereas only 19.4% of the non-innovating firms export their products. This relationship between innovation and internationalization is even more intense in the case of industry, where 84.4% of innovating industrial companies exported in 2016. According to ACCIÓ’s CEO, it is “difficult for a company to enter more markets if its product or service is not competitive, and for it to be competitive, it has to be innovative.”
For the first time, Catalonia’s Innovation Barometer evaluated the incorporation of new technology in the digital transformation of Catalan companies. Some 22.6% of the companies that innovated in 2016 incorporated new technologies, such as Big Data (18.9%), the Internet of things (IoT) (10.9%), Augmented Reality (AR) 7.3% and 3D printing (3.8%).