Article of Ignacio Bertolín’s opinions in the economista

By what paths can construction push the innovation button?

Europe has made it clear that innovation and digitalization are going to become the defense shield of our economy and the construction sector must make the most of this opportunity. Along with real estate development, our sector is one of those that has traditionally had the greatest weight in our country, but it is a reality that it is probably also one of the most impervious fields to the introduction of innovation. This dynamic is changing with the younger generations in corporate management positions, who understand that innovation and technology must become another strategic asset in the companies’ growth plans.

If we look at our most immediate surroundings -Valencian Community-, nothing like looking at the study prepared by the European Union “Regional innovation scoreboard” that has just come out and shows us where we are positioned in terms of innovation as a region. The news is that the Valencian Community is a moderate innovative territory and the innovation performance has increased in recent times by 18.3%.

We are therefore at the ideal time to develop long-term innovation plans. However, on too many occasions the day-to-day and the concern to achieve the established objectives hinder our ability to innovate or identify new business models. At this point, it is very interesting that we rely on entrepreneurs, who can become great allies since by collaborating with them we can take advantage of new opportunities, especially at the digital level.

In a scenario characterized by the vertiginous increase in the weight of technology in all sectors of the economy, the reduction of innovation cycles and an increasing specialization and sectorization; establishing links with startups allows traditional companies to capture the new dynamics and digital transformation and is a great competitive advantage.

These operations, known as venture capital, are experiencing a real upward phenomenon, also in our country. From the Corporate Venturing Report 2019 we know that these types of deals were present in 23% of the total number of projects financed by private equity globally during 2018. And the number is increasing every year.

Another exercise that we can put into practice in our companies is to encourage intrapreneurship, that is, to promote new ideas from our employees. You just have to dare to take the step. The results are always surprising and very positive.

Few people know that those famous little sheets of yellow paper that we all have in our offices to leave little notes were created through the initiative of the workers of a large American company. Despite the fact that this phenomenon is still not very mature in our country, the II Report on Corporate Entrepreneurship in Spain indicates that, of the 58 large companies that participated, 86% of them have some kind of intrapreneurship initiative and 86.4% agree that these practices will increase in the coming years. So what are we waiting for to dive back into this field?

Most of the time, it is new technologies that introduce a disruptive element in a traditional sector such as ours. In construction, Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology platforms have revolutionized the processes with a work methodology based on 3D that serves as a meeting point for all those responsible for the project and whose main benefit lies in the possibility of making a three-dimensional design so that the client can observe the final result of the house in the most reliable way possible before starting the work.

But sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that innovation can only be introduced in the core business of the company, and that is not so, as it can be done in many departments, because it is a completely transversal agent. In our case, we have just launched an internal app to facilitate and streamline all employee-company communications. With a very intuitive technology, it will revolutionize the way we communicate internally. A few years ago we would never have considered it, but now we know the possibilities, ¿why we would not have done it before?

Public-private collaboration is also an excellent way to introduce innovation. An initiative in our sector that we find very interesting is the one carried out by the Regional Ministry of Territorial Policy, Public Works and Mobility and the Valencian Innovation Agency, which have set up a committee of specialists for the development of innovative solutions to detect the state of infrastructures and their maintenance needs.

And continuing with this trail of co-creation, I believe that AVE’s Fundación Lab Mediterráneo can act as a catalyst for a multitude of ideas or projects among all its members and carry out innovative projects that can benefit everyone. I do not want to forget one of the greatest agents of knowledge about innovation that we have, our universities. I am a strong advocate of the idea that businesspeople should encourage research inside and outside our organizations. Because without research, there is no innovation. The University-Business Chairs are an excellent way and, for this reason, we will soon inaugurate the Bertolín Chair together with the Polytechnic University of Valencia to promote these collaborations that connect University students with business and encourage the development of new technologies.

You can read the full article here >> Opinion article | el Economista