prof michele trimarchiMichele Trimarchi talks cross-innovation, creativity and policy-making in Italy. He is Full Professor in Economic Analysis of Law and Science of Finance at the University of Catanzaro “Magna Graecia”; but also Adjunct Professor in Cultural Economics, University of Bologna, “Alma Mater Studiorum”.

Can you describe the phenomena of cross-innovation?

The manufacturing economy is leaving a progressively wider space to a system based upon the value of knowledge, in synthesis a non-prejudicial paradigm in which professions, objects and actions are being crafted within a subjective approach. No more clones as the economic theory still seems to suggest. In such a paradigm, innovation is necessary but certainly not sufficient to provide us with a suitable response to a myriad of complex and unexpected needs and expectations.

Innovation = creativity?
In such a respect we can define innovation and creativity neither as two synonimous words (how is often done), nor as two rivals; actually they both push ahead the threshold of production and action. Innovation moves along a precise line, following a set direction; creativity generates a sort of short circuit between two existing objects or phenomena, but it puts them together in a new and unexpected way: it moves ignoring any predictable path, and explores virign territories. Both innovation and creativity are crucial in generating wide and diffused benefits, in improving quality of life, in being spread across various economic, social and cultural areas.

The dominating economic paradigm is based upon quite a rigid taxonomy of productive sectors, skills and competences, markets. It is the natural feature of the manufacturing system. Things are changing, quite radically. The emerging paradigm is slowly and firmly abandoning a value hyerarchy substantially based upon a dimensional war among economic agents, to adopt a much smoother and effective orientation towards experience, relationship and proximity, all of them consistent with a more flexible and versatile structure of the economy.

In an innovation economy, things need to be more fluid, is creativity the key to economic growth?

In such a framework innovation per se is necessary but it may be not sufficient since it could protect the existing system without allowing it to adapt to the emerging needs, views and expectations; creativity would be indispensable; still now creativity is often considered anomalous, not certainly as a stranger in the economy, but as not sufficiently able to fertilise conventional activities. What the economy needs is therefore a new combination of innovation and creativity, and a wider arena where its outcomes can be experienced introducing new products, but above all new approaches, new styles and new praxes.

Multiple markets
Cross-innovation is the powerful option aimed at reconsidering the flows of creativity, crafting and exchanging in multiple markets. It exerts a strong impact upon the value of human capital, providing professionals with a much wider scope for their ideas and actions; it multiplies the channels aimed at hosting and facilitating exchanges, both in the analogic and digital dimensions; it provides consumers with a more sophisticated range of options, responding to the long tail expectations and therefore touching the threshold of willingness-to-pay and consequently revenues.

Why the Italian industrial districts and in particulary the territory of the Province of Rome can be considered more favorable for the implementation of policies of cross-innovation?

Like in the long and fertile experience of industrial districts the territorial framework, where creative and productive innovations prove solid and effective, is crucial. Cross-innnovation as a complex and dynamic action requires a territorial, social and cultural cradle where activities are multiple, reciprocally connected, related to a variety of economic areas, possibly able to hybridate material and intangible values and products. This seems the portrait of Rome and its wide territory, wider than a metropolitan area and less extended that a Region. It is an area where identity is clear, history and economy are consistent, connections are still intensive and powerful as they have been through centuries.

Grass-root economy and dynamics
Cross-innvation then seems to be a specific feature of the Roman economy, and the experience already known and analysed in the project clearly shows unique symptoms of success, also emphasizing an effective relationship between the institutional framework and the grass-root economy where enterpreneurs are not passive recipients of rigid norms, rather they are independent and active, and in such a way can benefit from the institutional attention towards creativity and innovation without adapting their initiatives to normative blocks, as often happens.

The value of cross-innovation is reflected in the dynamic economic environment of Rome. Its impact can be multiplied through a systematic orientation towards international alliances and markets. This is made possible by the lively approach of many companies and organisations active in the area, but mainly by the interaction with the local administration providing the economy with the technical tool of brokerage: in such a way creative intuitions, productive projects and market challenges can be usefully faced activating fertile hybridations and alliances with economic agents active in other areas of the world. The cross-innovation brokerage is the right way to expand the production and exchange scope of enterprises, and to highlight the opportunities for local production to widen its creative catalogue, and to conquer wider markets.