Consortia in Innovation
What is a consortium? International experience of consortia creation.
The development of new technologies and the promotion of innovation in different countries, based on common interests, were a valuable tool for the pooling of resources and sharing of both costs and risks associated with finding, refining and marketing of competitive innovation.
Legal form of consortia may vary and the extent of their stability is also quite different. Some of them are reliable agencies with a long history, while others are short-term alliances with its members building a partnership for the first time.
Three different examples of consortia are described below: they are very similar to each other, but differ on their motivation and composition which confirms the widespread applicability of the basic model for any mutually beneficial combination of interests.
The first example relates to the Chilean wine sector, where in the first decade of this millennium, in response to the beginning of a new state-funded program to support alliances between researchers and the productive sector was held call for proposals, which has led to the creation of two consortia. One of them is a group of companies and agronomists who have worked at the university, who were engaged in grape growing techniques, and the other was a group of different companies and scientists who were interested in wine production technology. After a short period of collaborative working, two consortia decided to merge, as companies have begun to realize the benefit of working with universities and the need for innovation in grape cultivation and in wine production. Chile is currently the source of high-quality wines, which are sold worldwide.
The second example comes from the household appliances sector in Mexico, which is stimulated in the framework of a program funded by the state, which required the creation of alliances between scientists and technologists of universities and public research centres and the productive sector. In this case, the only company «MABE», which produces a wide range of cookers, refrigerators and other electrical appliances for the domestic market and exports much of its products to competitive markets in middle-income countries. The company signed a contract with a large the number of scientists to explore different aspects of its product and production figures. The research areas included: energy efficiency as a whole range of products and production processes, new materials and surface treatment technologies to improve the performance and durability of the ovens, the efficiency of water consumption of washing machines and market research in key international markets in order to determine the differential preferences of consumers and consumer behaviour. The operations like assembling a range of product components, manual task of specification of the necessary technical services, monitoring performance indicators, planning the implementation of innovations, integration of the results into products and processes, have been the usual things for «MABE» experts.
The third example relates to the engineering and materials sector in the Basque country in Spain. These sectors required a radical reconstruction after the integration of the previously closed market which demonstrated a lack of competitiveness of the traditional methods and products. Significant support was provided within the framework of EU regional development programs. Semi-autonomous Basque regional development agency set clear priorities. The first step was the transformation of traditional institutions for applied research in the field of energy, metallurgy and other branches of material science, which lagged behind the world's leading organisations, and their re-equipment in order to create a competitive advantage for firms in the region. Then, the country implemented a network approach to tackling interrelated and common problems faced by companies which introduced new materials, new manufacturing processes and new products. These innovations went beyond the old boundaries of the industry, and were strongly influenced by the horizontal technologies such as ICT, computerisation and nanotechnology. Organisational innovations in research centres were stimulated by two complementary solutions. Firstly, merger of interests to create a single organisation with capabilities in various technologies and previously separated scientific research institutes. Secondly, network alliance, in which cooperation is the basis of teamwork, and the sides do not merge into a single organisation. Although in the course of reconstruction some assistance was provided, the main principle of the strategy was the management of the institutes, directors of commercial companies and commercial philosophy of finance, according to which a large part of the operating revenue comes from contributions and payments for services by participating firms.
Although each of these three examples was the result of different circumstances, in each of them the main objective was to achieve a commercial advantage and fostering competitiveness strategy based on innovation through the use of knowledge, which is a prerequisite for survival and success in the competitive international markets.
The competitions for Grant Programs for consortia of productive sector and consortia of inclusive innovations will be held within "Fostering productive innovation" project.
Component "Innovation consortia" considers the submission of applications for the following two competitions:
Sub-Component 2.1. Consortia of productive sector: consortium created to improve the productive sectors of the economy, including agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors.
Sub-Component 2.2. Consortia of inclusive innovation: consortium created to improve the quality and provision of social services (health, education, access to drinking water, urban and rural infrastructure) to improve the living standards of urban and rural population.