What if we treated innovation the way we treated COVID-19?
Our Canton and our State have tackled the COVID-19 emergency with great courage in all respects: both in terms of the decision to support the economy and in terms of financial management. What if innovation were also given this treatment?
Starting from the economic discourse, Ticino’s companies were able to benefit from quick financing obtainable by filling in a simple sheet. This procedure not only helped companies recover liquidity at a critical time, but also ensured maximum efficiency by avoiding complex bureaucratic processes.
Now, imagine if we had access to funding for innovation in the same way: wouldn’t that be great?
Mind you, we’re not just talking about startups, but also about structured companies that we often forget about, but that definitely play an important role in the context of innovation.
The obstacles of those who want to innovate
Nowadays, doing innovation is a luxury that few companies can afford. It is often necessary, in fact, to resort to private funds. Not only that, innovation in Ticino is tied to very rigid rules and financing that is difficult to find. Banks, first of all, do not have risky and easily accessible capital for ambitious projects. Consequently, companies are forced to find solutions beyond their borders by resorting to foreign funds.
Applying for a loan today can mean compiling very complex documentation where the objective is to convince a bank, or a lender, on the guarantee of gain or return of the same project.
In contrast, the COVID-19 emergency was, quite rightly, handled with great speed and simplicity. The entrepreneur was able to access funds in a direct, no-nonsense manner. These funds cost the entrepreneur very little and do not weigh excessively on the future of the company as they can be repaid over several years.
Innovation vs. COVID-19
The above is exactly what innovation needs, so why not think in these terms for business projects that need funding?
Clearly, in the specific case concerning the COVID-19 emergency, it is the State that guarantees. However, the latter can be said to be competent in assessing whether a project should be funded or not. It would be useful, therefore, to have technical financial bodies that could be relied upon to evaluate submitted proposals, such as Innosuisse projects. Innosuisse’s decision to fund an innovation project, in fact, can already be a kind of guarantee towards the state to access the same way as a COVID-19 model funding for innovation.
To date, after the closure of an Innosuisse project, the entrepreneur finds himself “dumped” with his idea. There is no “after-project” where you can get real funding for product development and commercialization.
Creating a 360° collaboration with all the faculties present in Ticino becomes of primary importance. An Innosuisse project, by nature, leads you to need various competences, all competences that the academic institutions in Ticino possess: from technical development in all its facets, to the marketing part, to financial models and so on.
At this point, the question we must ask ourselves is: can innovation be managed as an emergency? The way we see it leads us to give an affirmative answer! Innovation must be managed as an emergency (now more than ever). The creation of a fertile ground, from which not only startups but also more structured companies can benefit, can be the starting point for the realization of an all-Ticino Silicon Valley. Can you imagine what a breakthrough like this could bring to our Canton?
In conclusion, our politicians have shown that they have the courage, the ability and the competence to manage an emergency of this magnitude. Covid-19 is today’s emergency, tomorrow’s emergency could be the lack of competitiveness of our Canton caused by the absence of innovation. What do you think?
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