How to finance innovation today?

It’s taken by every State and even international organizations that technological innovation should be one of the main leverages to overcome the current economic situation. The challenge is, precisely, in this economic context, it hinders risky activities financing, as happens with R&D&I.

Telefónica has been chosen by the OECD to represent the business sector at a workshop on December 7 on “Financing R&D&Innovation in the Current Macroeconomic Context” held at the OECD headquarters.

The main objective was to draw a first sketch of the impacts of the global financial and public debt crises on innovation.

The OECD could play a substantial role in identifying policy priorities for STI (Science, Technology & Innovation) in this evolution context.

The discussion was organized around eight key questions where preliminary answers are provided based on what we know from past crises and the available statistical evidence:

  • What to expect from innovation as a result of the crises?
  • What has happened to innovation?
  • Did global downturn lead to “creative destruction”?
  • What has happened to innovation financing?
  • What about the role of low demand and substantial uncertainties?
  • Will there be impacts on the global distribution of leadership in innovation?
  • Is there a risk of long-term effects on innovation-based growth?
  • What about innovation policy at present?

Telefónica presented some proposals in order to:

  • Create an intangible asset market with suitable rules, giving the right value to innovation’s results and making self-financing possible.
  • Facilitate access to private public initiatives, reducing bureaucracy and leveraging decisions for long term effects.
  • Be more efficient on internal innovation management within business, private and public administrations and research institutions.

In general, the current context needs to promote big initiatives with short term results and the OECD appreciated the real proposals promoted by Telefónica during the last months: creating Telefónica Digital to gather all the digital services to develop resolutions including Group’s research and innovation activities, programs such as Wayra to support entrepreneurial spirit, Amérigo for the creation of Venture Capital funding, and the Proniño Programme that boosts education for children in Latin America.

It was also welcomed the proposal made during the Spanish-German summit in March to launch a pan-European public-private fund of 6000M€ for the creation of technology-based ICT companies which already resulted in a cooperation program with the Spanish government called “ProgramaInnvierte”.

We need to be creative a proactive in this field, and that is what Telefónica is working on. But we also need to get the adequate support from public administrations and design the most supportive public policies for innovation. If we all work in the same direction, we will soon see fruitful outcomes for the benefit of our society.

Luis Ignacio Vicente del Olmo

Return on Innovation Manager

Product Development & Innovation

Telefónica Digital

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