Leonardo fuels its progress in technological innovation by maintaining constant interaction between the various internal and external stakeholders who make up its “ecosystem” of innovation.
At Leonardo, the innovation process is based on a central coordination of an ‘internal federation’ of skills, laboratories, skills and experts, spread across its various industrial locations and coordinated centrally, as well as on its connection to an ‘external network’ of relationships with Innovation stakeholders in an Open Innovation framework designed to seize opportunities for technological and product innovation promptly and efficiently.
Indeed, for Leonardo, innovation is based on opportunities that may arise not only from individual resources, but also and above all from interaction and influences among different players, both inside and outside the company, including universities, research centres, SMEs, start-up companies and customers.
The management and development of people who devote themselves to innovation within Leonardo and its network are therefore one of the key engines needed for the development and advancement of our technological expertise, and an important resource for us to be able to maintain our competitive advantage.
In order to foster the development of people, promote the aptitude to transform innovation into a personal ‘need’, and to create a culture of innovation which involves all resources and not just those of a technical nature, Leonardo has adopted several innovative tools, including the MindSh@re project, which is an internal network of technology experts and the Innovation Award.
Partnerships with universities and research centers
Leonardo collaborates with leading universities, institutes and research centres in Italy and abroad, as part of an ‘Innovation Hub’: projects in which joint activities are undertaken to develop technologies, products and services and for basic research.
The Group's relationships with nationally and internationally recognised universities and departments are of inestimable value to the Group, guaranteeing scientific excellence in the various disciplinary areas and making Leonardo an open organisation capable of which harnessing and integrating the knowledge and experiences of each of its various partners.
The purpose behind each technological partnership is to develop and improve Leonardo's technology portfolio through research programme agreements and partnerships and, at the same time, to train new human resources through the implementation of internships, doctoral programmes and theses.
About 60% of all technological partnerships are set up in order to develop technologies and skills, 25% to support the Group in the development of new products or services, and the remaining 15% is dedicated to directing and supporting basic research.
The capacity to create a long-lasting and stable relationship of trust, in order to maximize the effect of the relations in terms of growth and results, is one of Leonardo’s technological success factors.
Through framework agreements, we have created strong partnerships with a selection of priority academic partners such as the Polytechnics of Milan and Turin and the Universities La Sapienza of Rome and Federico II of Naples. This is the foundation on which we can build structured long-term relationships on key issues for the Group, and also to address Leonardo's future technological development. We also work with other universities of internationally recognised excellence.
The Italian scientific network of the Group comprises main research centres and consortia, such as the CNR, CIRA (Italian Centre for Space Research), ENEA, INGV (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology), CINI (National Interuniversity Computer Consortium) and the CNIT (National Consortium for Telecommunications).
Internationally, we collaborate with leading universities and research centres in the UK, including Heriot-Watt University, University of Bristol, University of Liverpool, University of Cranfield and University of Edinburgh, as well as others worldwide. In order to fuel its Open Innovation process, Leonardo participates in several initiatives to support modern entrepreneurship, in the form of start-ups and valuable spin-offs, such as the Fondazione R&I (Research and Entrepreneurship).
The technological communities of the MindSh@re project represent the Group's internal knowledge sharing network. MindSh@re continuously promotes innovation culture and projects, the dissemination of best practices and the generation of internal Open Innovation processes. MindSh@re strengthens relationships and processes of a technical nature within Leonardo, favouring across-the-board research projects. MindSh@re is also there to create constant connections between the Group and national and international centres of excellence, and to disseminate Open Innovation processes that can stimulate the formation of spin-offs and start-ups.
The MindSh@re communities are currently working on issues ranging from advanced materials to radar technology, simulation, software, engineering processes, autonomous systems and go as far as covering aspects related to intellectual property.