Posted: 21 Sep. 2020 6 minuti Tempo di lettura

Human-centric innovation is the pole star to follow for the recovery of European Countries

The crisis generated by Covid-19 has defined a new normal characterised by the acceleration of structural changes that were already underway before the pandemic. It is enough to think of how our relationship with the home and cities has changed, leading to a preference for green areas over metropolises, penalised by hectic rhythms, elevated costs, and high pollution. This has involved on one hand the necessity to rethink urban areas, and on the other hand, the need to digitalise out-of-town areas. During the crisis, this and other phenomena have accelerated; Technological and digital innovation have been key tools to intercept these “unknown” changes and promptly arrange effective solutions capable of responding to emerging needs (for example, the use of digital devices to work remotely or for telemedicine).

In this new context, all Countries are called to design and implement economic and social recovery plans, potentially marking the start of a new era. Strengthened by the resources of the Recovery Fund, European Countries can ensure sustainable growth and a better future for generations to come if they channel these economic resources into a few but fundamental strategic priorities, conceived and designed around individuals, in a logic of human-centric innovation.

The data are on our side and show us there is a clear relationship between economic growth and innovation: the most virtuous countries have bet more on innovation (e.g. USA, China, Israel, and South Korea). Why does this occur? Capturing the concept in a formula, we could affirm that the value generated by innovation (V(i)) derives from the natural Assets of a country that represent its distinctive competitive advantage (A), from the industrial policies aimed at generating favourable economic conditions (P), and from a real entrepreneurial ecosystem (e):

V(i)= (A*P)e

This virtuous effect is possible if innovation is supported by courageous economic policies that enhance the country’s strategic Assets and if it is conceived “around the individual”. Only in this way can innovation improve both the economic context as well as the social aspect of a country, opening up new prospects for progress, in that:

a)   It creates fertile ground for the development and progress of technologies that improve people’s way of life, their health, and the cities in which they live, spreading in a way that is exponential and not linear. Thanks to new technologies that have sprung up in a very short time, the healthcare sector has been able to define a new logic of access to digital and at-home medical services. In very little time, the funds provided for start-ups related to telemedicine and patient monitoring have grown YoY respectively by 1,818% and 168% compared to Q1 2019 at the global level (Deloitte, 2020) and many more citizens have had the possibility to be treated “at home”, monitored and supported by their doctors.

b)   It generates the conditions to improve the way of doing economy, transforming existing businesses and creating new ones and generating new work opportunities. The case of Zoom on the NASDAQ is striking, +187% in share value in 6 months (post lockdown), a sign of how innovative economies generate innovative businesses that create value for the community and shareholders even in the most complicated situations.

c)    It allows for a sharing of knowledge and abilities capable of enhancing “Human Knowledge”, integrating it with the technology itself and generating new specialised talents. In this sense, the EU’s Next Generation Plan offers the possibility of investing in enhancing Human Capital: the skills and knowledge of researchers are an Asset of immense value and significant steps forward are needed to improve the intensity of R&D. To this end, it is essential not only to incentivise technology transfer and collaboration between universities and companies through the establishment of research centres and innovation poles, but also to invest in talents specialised in STEM disciplines, which are currently in short supply. For instance, as emerged from the first Deloitte Foundation Observatory, ("RiGeneration STEM. The skills of the future pass from science and technology”), in Italy almost 1 company in 4 (23%) stated they had not identified STEM profiles in the “moment of need”. These numbers confirm that a change of direction is necessary to map out the future of our youth because technical and scientific disciplines will shape the world of tomorrow in Europe, and not only from the viewpoint of the labour market.

To conclude, to overcome the crisis, it is essential to invest in innovation through adopting a structured and methodological approach, defining a few but fundamental areas of intervention and focusing the resources of the Recovery Fund on innovative solutions and Assets, making Europe a model to follow for the new normal. Every Country has the opportunity to focus on its excellences: for example, Italy could leverage on the value of “Made in Italy”, exploiting the economic value of Italian Human Capital and strategic Assets. In this sense, it is fundamental to leverage incubation and acceleration programmes that support innovative and technological transfer between start-ups, research centres and businesses, both large firms and small and medium-sized companies.

In this period of relaunch, human-centric innovation will be the pole star to follow to orientate ourselves and to take the right path, generating economic and social value for Europe and the future generations.

About the author

Andrea Poggi

Andrea Poggi

Innovation Leader, NSE | C&I Leader, DCM

Andrea è Senior Partner, membro del Comitato Esecutivo per Deloitte Nord e Sud Europa (NSE). E’ Leader dell’Innovazione per il network NSE ed è responsabile del Mercato per l’Europa centro-mediterranea, guidando la practice “Clients & Industries”. Andrea è appassionato dei temi di innovazione, crede nell’approccio multidisciplinare che olisticamente integri asset innovativi e tecnologici con nuovi modelli di business. Ha sviluppato la sua carriera consulenziale principalmente nei settori finanziari ed assicurativi. E' considerato un punto di riferimento dalla business community, regolarmente invitato alle piu’ influenti conferenze istituzionali italiane ed europee. Con un’esperienza manageriale di circa 25 anni sulla catena del valore di grandi multinazionali finanziarie e società di consulenza, è anche il fondatore in Europa Centro-Mediterranea di Monitor, la boutique di consulenza strategica di Deloitte, che ha posizionato nel mercato con una forte connotazione esecutiva. In passato, Andrea è stato top manager in un primario Gruppo assicurativo nonché docente universitario e autore di diversi libri, inclusi testi accademici. Regolarmente intervistato dai principali media, pubblica spesso articoli manageriali sulla stampa e su testate specializzate.