RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

The Telecommunications sector has undergone a quick, but major transformation in recent years, characterised by the decline in traditional voice services and the ever-greater growth of fixed and mobile broadband and the new services enabled by it, thereby contributing towards the rapid digitisation of the life of consumers and business processes. Coherently with this sector context, in recent years, Telecom Italia has launched its own evolution route by which to gain standing as a supplier of services and platforms, and not just connectivity. This route envisages two parallel lines of action:

  • on the one hand, the acceleration of the development of enabling platforms, namely fixed and mobile ultrabroadband, data centres, big data and IT;
  • on the other, the enrichment of connectivity with innovative digital services towards the development of a digitised society and an automated industry (industry 4.0)

The technological and business innovation is therefore increasingly confirmed as a central element of the Telecom Italia strategy in order to respond to the change in the technological, market and competitive context.

The efforts made regarding investments in new generation infrastructure, both fixed and mobile, and in new services, were accompanied by action to support innovation across the board. Internally, Telecom Italia has strengthened the Company laboratories, bringing alongside the traditional Research and Development centred on infrastructures, a focus on digital innovation, also with a view to supporting the evolution of a demand that has increasingly varied, sophisticated characteristics and which is met by the activities of the Innovation Centre.

Over 50 years of innovation

The digital innovation is based on a paradigm of open innovation that is realised by accompanying the internal generation of ideas and development routes with the generation of ideas and development paths coming from outside the Company. In these terms, Telecom Italia has reviewed and renewed its relations with the universities, financing 25 triennial PhDs scolarships in 2015 and a total of 165 from 2011 to date. Again on the academic front, the Joint Open Labs, research laboratories that propose a new way for industry and universities to work together, have been created. These laboratories stem from agreements on specified fields of scientific and technological interest and “live” inside the university campuses (Trento, Turin, Milan, Pisa and Catania). In the last three years, these public-private partnerships have enabled Telecom Italia to obtain 5 million euros in European funds for research, in addition to 2 million euros received from the universities with which it collaborates.

In addition to open innovation, the digital innovation is hinged on another important cornerstone: co-innovation, a development model that envisages the full optimisation of the ecosystem of stakeholders and strategic partners of the company as bearers of innovation on the market. Through the application of “two-sided” models, Telecom Italia creates a common framework of interaction (e.g. platform) from which two different user groups can gain mutual benefit, thereby creating further value.

TIM #Wcap is the business accelerator of the Telecom Italia Group that each year selects, finances and accelerates digital start-ups. From 2009 to 2015, more than 8,000 business ideas were received and examined and approximately 260 projects selected and supported. Moreover, 11 TIM #Wcap start-ups were invested in by TIM Ventures. In the last two years, the TIM #Wcap start-ups launched 25 go-to-market activities within TIM, thanks to which turnover was generated. With three of these, TIM also created a commercial offer. The survival rate of TIM #Wcap start-ups has exceeded 90% and in two years, thanks to TIM #Wcap, 215 jobs have been created. TIM #WCAP is an incubator certified by the Ministry for Economic Development.

Starting from TIM #Wcap, Telecom Italia has debuted in seed investment, launching TIM Ventures, the Group Company created with the aim of investing in options or share capital in the most innovative start-ups in the Digital, Internet, Mobile and Green ICT sectors. In just one year of activity, TIM Ventures has already invested in 12 start-ups and is mentioned amongst the most active European VC investors in 20151.

In Italy, Telecom Italia employs approximately 1,300 resources in engineering, technological innovation and service activities. Investments in innovation and transformation amount to 1.7 billion euros, equating to 44% of total investments on the domestic market.

The relevant stakeholders for research and development are:

  • the areas of the Company involved (e.g. Marketing and Purchasing);
  • the suppliers, for the joint development of solutions in accordance with the technical requirements of the Telecom Italia Group;
  • the traditional (e.g. car makers) and digital (e.g. eCommerce players) partners, for the joint Go2market of digital services;
  • research centres and universities, for cooperation and joint projects; in 2015, 38 new cooperation agreements with Italian universities were launched on research topics relating to new technologies, coding algorithms, new communication services and paradigms;
  • the standardisation bodies and discussion groups (including NGMN, OpenIPTV Forum, OMA, 3GPP, ETSI, TM Forum, W3C, ITU-T) in which Telecom Italia is actively involved;
  • the Ministries (Ministry for Economic Development and Ministry of Education, Universities and Research), the European Union and public authorities (e.g. CNR and local authorities) for projects funded through participation in competitive tenders, and partnership initiatives;
  • non-governmental organisations, associations, alliances and industry forums (e.g. GSMA, m-health) which bring together all the entities involved in the value chain of the specific market;
  • international research and development organisations (e.g. EURESCOM and Joint Technology Initiative).

 

1 Source: Venture Pulse Q2’15 – KPMG and CB Insights.