EUREKA ezine spoke to INDRA vice president Manuel Ausaverri on innovation and internationalisation strategies – and how Eureka can help.
Indra is one of the leading global consulting and technology companies and the technology partner for the key operations of its customers' businesses worldwide. It offers a comprehensive range of proprietary solutions and cutting-edge services with optimal technological capabilities, supported by a corporate culture of reliability, flexibility and adaptation to customer requirements. Indra is a world leader in the development of comprehensive technology solutions in fields such as Defense & Security, Transport & Traffic, Energy and Industry, Telecommunications & Media, Financial Services and Public Administrations & Healthcare. Through its Minsait unit, it addresses the challenges posed by digital transformation.
Q- INDRA has been involved in quite a few Eureka projects – for example ‘BroadPro’ on wireless broadband. Could you please tell us why and to what extent Indra has been involved in Eureka in the past?
A- Yes, that’s true, our involvement in Eureka has been very relevant and comes from long ago! Since the beginning, INDRA played a role within the Eureka clusters – our clients had already been involved before, and in terms of strategy it made a lot of sense for us to be there, too.
For instance, in the Celtic cluster, our first project was CBDP (Context Based Digital Personality). This project consisted in the customization of the information provided to final users based on their needs and preferences. In Indra we believed (and believe now even more) in the future of the IoT combined with semantic technologies. Through the CBDP project, we developed our first real-time holistic engine, which has been the feed of our current middleware solutions like SOFIA2, used in our smart city platform, for example.
Another cluster we are involved in is ITEA, and this will help me to illustrate our positive appreciation about Eureka: compared to other instruments, Eureka was more useful for us to speed-up our developments. We decided to submit proposals to ITEA when we needed more specific and fast time-to-market deployments. Our main reference in ITEA is the OPEES project that provides a framework of tools for developing embedded software for aeronautic technologies.
Q- How was your experience with Eureka projects?
A- Our experience is really good, and it has helped to develop a long term trust relationship with our counterparts, the national Spanish public authorities, which we consider an essential part of the success. We are proud of it and we consider each project as a private-public partnership in which trust, common objectives and shared strategy are necessary.
This is why we think Eureka is a very valuable program, since it allows us to grow and develop this partnership at a national level. Staring from developments such as small cross-domain technologies, every single outcome we have developed in Eureka is part of our business solutions. At present, we are even more ambitious and we consider Eureka not only as a R&D instrument but also as a tool to develop and sell R&D outcomes beyond European borders (considering the bi-lateral Eureka projects, just like it is done with the IBEROEKA instrument for Latin America).
Q- With rising giant economies like India and China, but also in view of the "innovation gap" between Europe and the US, how can Europe stay competitive with the rest of the world?
A- This is a crucial issue, not only for our company, but for the whole of Europe and its future generations. Although we are perhaps not in the best moment of the European construction – you only have to watch the news to realize this - the European Union represents to me an extraordinary proposal for the rest of the world. This is about freedom, a cohesive society model, human rights, development and progress for us and for our kids. In order to keep this model, European economies must remain competitive and attractive and should provide opportunities, for companies and people.
In my view, the best way (and probably the only one) to keep our European competitiveness in good shape in the Digital world is through innovation and creativity, creating and fostering new ideas, technologies, products, and business models, because we do not enjoy the advantages that other parts of the world may have. This is why supporting innovation and R&D should be a cornerstone of any European Strategy.
Q- How should an ideal innovation funding environment look like?
A- It may seem obvious, but as the economic crisis showed clearly, it is very important to increase the funding rates to build an attractive R&D funding environment. It is very difficult for private companies to focus on, sometimes uncertain, investments without significant support, especially in early stages.
But it is not all about money. In our view, it is equally important to have a shared investment agenda with our public partners, based on trust. Like that we can make efforts and take risks together, and complement each other’s vision, which is fundamental to make this work on a strategic level.
Q- What are INDRA's plans for the future in terms of R&D investment?
A- R&D is a fundamental part of our Strategy, being a technological company. And we will maintain and redouble our investment effort in this direction, as our investment plans show. We are planning to bet for emerging digital technologies, cross-domain technologies (to get a full view of the different markets and transversal domains, like Smart* ones) and paying special attention to the international and trans-national markets. I am sure that we will find new grounds for successful collaboration with Eureka along this way!