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Research, Innovation, Regulation

Rome, 26/09/2019, National Roundtable

Given the important links between research, innovation and regulation, businesses, universities and institutions are being called upon to work in unison to reinforce and improve Italian competitiveness and with it the economy. Indeed, highly innovative businesses, for example, consider regulation an effective aid to economic progress and the creation of value added benefits.

In as much as it also carries additional costs, such regulation is consequently viewed by enterprise as an opportunity to evolve that can incentivize the birth of new models for the production and distribution of products and services. Although the European, and Italian, regulation panorama is quite dense, which tends to accentuate its bureaucratic aspects, it also proves essential to disciplining the competitive environment and promoting the kind of innovation that reduces negative externalities. Moreover, a rule system’s effectiveness depends essentially on simplicity and stability, as well as on being facilitated by a set of precise – but not redundant – controls and sanctions.

If it is to be beneficial to citizens, effective regulation must necessarily base itself on the current evidence available and must also strive to anticipate change – taking care, at the same time, not to slow the processes of innovation that lead to consumer benefits in the name of precautionary principles not rooted in science.

There are also sectors of the economy still in need of regulation, such as digital platforms and artificial intelligence, which are not devoid of dangers to citizens, especially with regard to privacy and the dissemination of incorrect data.

Many speakers pointed out that there are numerous regulators and government authorities in Italy interfacing with the business world to formulate rules capable of fostering innovation and investments. There are also many examples of difficulty in applying best practices. The kind of regulation that helps manufacturing and encourages new, innovative and virtuous undertakings is that which incentivizes sustainability – both environmental and social – and reduces the damage and externalities of consumer and manufacturing models.

At the center of the debate was the importance of dialogue between the spheres of research and industry. Since universities play a fundamental role in facilitating the marriage of research and innovation, the mechanisms that allow for the transfer of technological expertise between those two spheres must be improved in such a way as to encourage a more lasting innovation ecosystem.

Encouraging dialogue between industry, research and the policy makers that design the framework within which to formulate regulation is the best way to generate the sort of fair and lasting economic growth that benefits the broadest possible portion of the population.