Cocncordi 2019

Concept Note

Corporate Research, Development and innovation (RDi)

RDi are key factors for EU competitiveness and job creation. They are at the core of the EU socio-economic reform agenda, "preparing the transition to a knowledge-based economy and society by better policies". Innovation is a main engine of industrial dynamics.

If well directed, such an evolution is able to tackle the societal challenges. Some of the challenges ahead have multiple dimensions, such as the scientific and technological development, employment and mobility, environment and security related issues.

There, the industrial innovation systems are effected by and contribute to both global and local socio-economic endeavours, and influence the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

Innovation, structural change and industrial transformation

At the global level, industry is undergoing a profound structural transformation from changes driven by digitalisation, other new technologies and new business models (European Commission, 2018). This requires an effort towards industrial modernisation especially in the EU: embracing technological change, integrating products and services, and developing environmentally and employment friendly technologies also economically affordable for producers and consumers.

At EU level, although there is a large consensus on the importance of the manufacturing sector to foster competitiveness, innovation and sustainable growth, the last decades were characterised by a progressive EU decline of the manufacturing sector share, both in value added and job creation.

Hence, the EU target for the manufacturing sector is to represent 20% of a country's value added. This should also result in an increase of R&D, given the positive association between manufacturing and R&D investment. It also suggests that the link between manufacturing and R&D depends on the specialisation of a country's industrial structure.

At the territorial level, innovation and R&D capacities attract industrial activities and favour industrial participation in global value chains and networks with resulting dynamism of the territorial innovation system. Still, managing the industrial transition exploiting the territorial convergence in response to globalisation and technological change is highly demanding.

Industrial innovation and socio-economic transformation

Together with facilitating the transition to a low-carbon and circular economy, policies aimed to foster industrial competitiveness, innovation and technological leadership have the ultimate objectives to create more and better jobs, and to accompany those regions and workers most affected by industrial development and globalisation.

Here, the employment impact of industrial innovation and transformation is expected to be large. In this process, the dynamics of the internal demand, wages dispersion among territories, the skills needs, and the job polarisation become topics of great importance.

In this context, a strengthened link between innovation and industrial policies is essential to generate employment and good jobs through healthy business dynamics.