The research activity of the Center focus on the development of an integrated framework for understanding the dynamics of innovation and entrepreneurship, with a particular interest on how to apply best practices and new ideas to the local ecosystem. The innovation process is studied according to a systemic approach. In this perspective, the research activities are oriented at investigating not only the characteristics of innovative start-ups, but also the role of different stakeholders (large corporations, financial institutions, regulatory bodies, universities and public research centres, incubators) that contribute to shape the environmental conditions of local entrepreneurial ecosystems.
The key research topics that the Center is involved into can be summarized along the following lines of activity.
1. Digital transformation
This research line focuses on the digital transformation and its impact on industry structures, strategies, business models, work practices, and new competencies required to the workforce. The research activities are focused on the effects of digital transformation on Italian sectors with a comparative perspective with United States and other countries of the European Union. The aim of such focus is to shed light on the causes of the widening productivity gap that Italy has accumulated with some countries of the European Union and the United States after the emergence of the Internet as a new paradigm for information exchange. A number of studies are currently carried on with several international research institutions such as the Business and Information Technologies (BIT) network of UCLA Anderson School of Management, the Continuous Innovation Network (CINet) or through research collaborations with universities such as the Grenoble École de Management in France, Cass Business School in the United Kingdom. In details, the studies on the digital transformation cover and explore the following topics:
- The competitive dynamics and performance trends in information-intensive sectors;
- The value creation and value capture mechanisms in creative sectors (e.g. museums);
- The online visibility and the mechanism of value capture in the hospitality industry;
- The evolution of business models in manufacturing sectors;
- The smart work and evolution of teleworking models;
- The open Innovation approaches and technology transfer initiatives related to the emerging Industry 4.0 paradigm;
- The path of adoption of digital technologies in Italian SMEs;
- The creation of start-ups in information intensive industries.
The results of this research line are transferred in some of the teaching initiatives at Politecnico di Torino, such as the course on the New Internet Society in the Doctoral School and at the Alta Scuola Politecnica, and the course on Strategy and Organization at the Master of Science Degree Program in Engineering and Management. On these subjects, the team of researchers has provided indications for managers and practitioners (e.g. companies in the bank industry and start-ups), recommendations for institutions (e.g. Turismo Piemonte) and roadmap of actions for policy-makers (e.g. Osservatorio regionale sulla Società dell’Informazione della Regione Piemonte) about how to support and foster the competitiveness and the capability to master digital transformation.
2. Entrepreneurial eco-systems
This line of research is dedicated to the analysis of the relationship between the features of local entrepreneurial systems and the creation of innovative start-ups. Particular attention is given to the role of universities in sustaining entrepreneurial activities and promoting knowledge and technological transfer by the analysis of measures that can develop the entire ecosystem; supporting the local context in the creation of new companies; fostering new relationships among young and innovative start-ups, large and well established companies and institutional investors.
3. Entrepreneurial finance and innovation
This line of research is dedicated to the analysis of the features of private equity markets and their impact on the entrepreneurial success. Within such broad area, the research activities focus on specific topics, such as the role of publicly sponsored venture capital funds, the impact of the characteristics of target firms founding team on the likelihood of success, the phenomenon of cross-border investments in innovative start-ups, the evolution of the business angels segment. This line of research is also meant to provide relevant strategic policy insights for the development of local financial ecosystems that can effectively support the growth of new ventures in different sectors.
4. Intellectual property rights, markets for technology, and innovation
This research line is dedicated to the economic analysis of intellectual property rights (IPRs), under different perspectives. IPRs represent fundamental assets for technology transfer and their effective management requires specific advanced skills, also in the context of academic patenting. An appropriate use of IPRs can favor the set up of collaboration between large companies and start-ups. The research activities focus on:
- The analysis of IP management practices in small and large firms and the development of advanced methodologies for technology intelligence based on patent data-mining;
- The study of the barriers to the development of efficient markets for the trading of IPRs between firms and between public research institutions and companies;
- The analysis of the links between firm-level innovation strategies, including open innovation strategies, and the IPR management approaches;
- The investigation of the role of patent portfolios as signaling instruments towards external providers of financial resources.
5. Entrepreneurship education
Entrepreneurship education is an emerging area of research and includes several topics related to the analysis of the impact of entrepreneurship education on the creation of new firms; the effectiveness of entrepreneurship teaching methodologies in fostering entrepreneurial attitudes and skills. By a methodological viewpoint, the research activities be based also on comparative case studies of academic institutions and research centres worldwide. The results of this line of research are expected to provide valuable knowledge for the development of new training initiatives and for the evaluation of the related expected impacts. The line of research is also meant to adopt innovative teaching methods with the relevant contribution of large companies that are expected to provide both mentorships and specific challenges to be addressed.
6. Social innovation and entrepreneurship
This line of research is dedicated to the study of social and sustainable motivations and perspectives in innovation and entrepreneurship processes. It considers for-profit, nonprofit and hybrid organizations, their relationships and related policies. It also includes topics such as strategic corporate social responsibility (with connections to strategy), microcredit (with connections to finance) and stakeholder management. In recent years, the key role of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in facing societal challenges and creating an inclusive and sustainable economy has been widely acknowledged. The diffusion of an entrepreneurial culture for social innovation and the creation of social start-ups require specific supporting institutions and policies within the ecosystem.
This research aims at identifying and investigating the role of supporting institutions such as social incubators and accelerators, but also social co-working spaces and dedicated programmes in traditional accelerators, incubators, universities. How such institutions affect the emergence and the evolution over time of social business models is a key issue to be addressed. The line of research also involve the analysis of the innovative financial tools related to impact investing in order to investigate their economic rationales and long-term sustainability. Furthermore, attention is devoted to studies aimed at understanding how to better manage and transfer new technologies and affordable technologies to developing countries (including ad-hoc developed technologies developed at Politecnico di Torino and in other universities). Finally themes linked to the new trends in philanthropy (e.g. venture philanthropy) and new trends in non-profit organization and management is explored.