Naples 28 November 2018 13:10
- The centrepiece of the event was a round table discussion titled “Innovation through contamination”, featuring representatives from industry, academia and research organisations
- Leonardo’s 2018 Innovation Award initiative saw 750 projects presented and 24,000 students register online. Entries had a strong focus on the environmental impact of technologies and this year’s winners included a project from employees at Leonardo Aircraft in Pomigliano d’Arco aimed at protecting aircraft parts from oxidation
- Exhibits on display at the Città della Scienza museum include a section of Boeing 787 fuselage, the tool that will dig into the surface of Mars and immersive reality technologies
- The event saw the pilot edition of Leonardo’s technology transfer initiative: a marketplace of Company patents made available to Italian industry and research organisations.
As innovation continues to take great strides forward, so too does the public’s awareness of how new technology is affecting the economy, the world of work and people’s daily lives. Reflecting on these changes is essential for Leonardo, a Company which makes significant investments in research and development and maintains a highly specialised workforce in order to develop high-tech products. In this context, the Company has established a new ‘Innovation Day’ event, the first of which took place today at the Città della Scienza (Science City) museum in Naples.
The event was attended by Italy’s Minister of Education, University and Research, Marco Bussetti, as well as senior representatives from industry, Italian institutions and the world of science. A round table titled “Innovation through contamination” highlighted the importance of dialogue between different technological sectors, while other seminars provided insight into the very latest frontiers of technology: ‘Roboethics’ considered the ethical and societal implications of robotics, while another discussion focused on big data analytics, algorithms and artificial intelligence. A highlight of the day was Leonardo’s 2018 Innovation Award ceremony, which recognised the winners of a competition that has now involved the Company’s employees for 15 years and which began accepting entries from university students in 2015. Among the winners was a project presented by employees from Leonardo Aircraft in Pomigliano d'Arco (Naples), which involved an innovative study on the protection of aircraft parts from oxidation.
“Leonardo is a large industrial group that competes in global markets with its own technologies to ensure the safety of citizens. The Company trusts in research and is comitted to the development of regions and resources that produce ideas” said Leonardo President Giovanni De Gennaro. “Today’s event is a way of highlighting the important role that the Company plays as an incubator of innovative ideas. As Leonardo da Vinci, the ‘universal genius’ from whom we have drawn our brand teaches us, we must be open and welcoming, we must distinguish ourselves and be recognised, we must attract talent and we must know how to listen. There is no alternative” concluded De Gennaro, “because innovation is the only route by which our future can live up to our past.”
“For Leonardo” said CEO Alessandro Profumo, “innovation means that we must bring together resources and creativity from inside and outside the Company in a sort of positive ‘contamination’. Outwardly, this involves collaboration between Leonardo, the wider world of scientific research and the supply chain, while internally we must continue to share ideas, skills and capabilities throughout the Group, to ensure that we offer high-tech, integrated and innovative solutions to our customers. These are the keys to driving technological progress, competitiveness and growth, not just for Leonardo” noted Profumo, “but also for the regions and communities in which we operate.”
Innovation Day is an event that focuses on new technologies in the Aerospace, Defence and Security (AD&S) sector, a domain which requires a high degree of knowledge and in which environmental challenges are a key factor. The event offered guests an opportunity to look in-depth into Leonardo’s technological heritage across a range of products, platforms and systems, with a vast exhibition area highlighting the tangible, if not immediately obvious, effects that Leonardo’s innovations have had on everyday life, particularly in public safety and protection.
The exhibition area, subdivided into special themed zones, allowed guests to see and touch innovative technologies and materials such as a section of a Boeing 787’s carbon-fibre fuselage and a Kronos radar used for land and naval applications. Other highlights included latest-generation immersive reality systems, exhibits on research into electric aircraft and the ‘corkscrew’ tool which will dig into the soil of Mars in search of life as part of the ExoMars 2020 mission.
The day also included the final ceremony of the Leonardo Innovation Award 2018. The Innovation Award is an initiative which, since 2004, has involved over 30,000 Group employees and generated 10,000 innovative projects and patent proposals. This year’s edition evaluated entries in the context of Leonardo’s 2018-2022 Industrial Plan and saw 750 internal projects presented, 8% more than in 2017, of which 40% were from the Company’s international employees. A related website dedicated to university students saw 24,000 people register to get involved in the awards and compete for business internships. University students, whom Leonardo sees as of central importance in propagating a sense of ‘scientific citizenship’ amongst future generations, were heavily involved throughout the day, working closely with senior engineers at Leonardo’s various divisions. These interactions were in line with the fourth sustainable development goal of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda (quality education) and the objective was to to generate a deeper mutual understanding of new technological trends, the importance of universities in scientific research and the strategy of collaborative innovation being promoted by Leonardo.
During the event there was also a pilot project held for Leonardo’s new ‘patent marketplace’, which will enable transfer of technology under licence to Italian industry and research organisations. The initiative, driven by Leonardo’s technological expertise and carried out in collaboration with the Mesap Piedmontese technology centre, will provide a boost for SMEs which want to pursue innovative technologies.
Leonardo: Innovation in numbers
In 2017, Leonardo invested approximately 1.5 billion euros in Research & Development (R&D), 13% of company revenues. Over 9,000 employees were directly involved in this activity (split between Engineering and CTO functions), equal to around 20% of the Company's total employees. Of these, 6,200 are based in Italy and represent almost 7% of R&D-focused employees in the Italian manufacturing sector as well as around 10% of employees engaged in Italy’s medium-to-high technology sectors.
Leonardo's contribution to Italy’s total R&D expenditure is significant: taking into account only spending allocated in Italy, Leonardo represents 16.8% of the country’s R&D expenditure in the high and medium-high technology sectors and 10.9% of the total private R&D expenditure of all Italian manufacturers.
Leonardo's patent portfolio has recorded a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of close to 5% in the last decade. Around 19% of the patents in the portfolio were involved in the Company’s Innovation Award and, of these, 91% have found applications in Leonardo's systems, products and services.
Over the years, the Company has developed a strong network of research organisations, universities and SMEs, which together comprise an ‘innovation ecosystem’: Leonardo is part of more than 200 collaborative research projects and has partnerships with 93 universities and research centres around the world. 48 of these partnerships are in Italy and include 40% of Italian universities.