There is a trend going on nowadays which is worrying me. Big companies are trying to phagocytize small ones with an inadequate strategy (my humble opinion) inn order to led every single market. Big tech companies goal is to spread their networks through any potential new technology, struggling young companies and trying to become the only available option on the market. They are tending to be like a full marketplace for every technology.
For sure reader will know what I am talking about without having to give concrete examples. Far aways are the days where a big company in the industry specialized in a concrete technology and you could recognize them by the type / sector where they were experts. Nowadays, every big company wants to know about everything and be everywhere. The competition is so hard that niches where the presence of big companies was unthinkable a few years ago, now they are copped with a huge presence and competition from any kind of companies, each one of them trying to have their own space. Big companies included. There are salaries to pay and even the small chance of success is an opportunity for big companies, who do not let any field aside.
Thats the reality we are facing today, but, what happens when dealing with European Grants and trying to change the vision of this companies? One of the mistakes of that big companies when participating in these programs is that they do not change mentality. First of all, one may be wondering if BIG companies should be allowed to participate in this kind of programs. The answer is, absolutely, YES. It is true that probably their needs of public funding are completely opposite to the ones of a small company for whom these aid suppose the difference between life and death. But that doesn’t mean they are not needed. Their expertise, capabilities, distribution channels and more capabilities make them the perfect companion for the development and integration of new technologies in a realistic way in our present and future society, and we should not forget thats what these aids are looking for.
The problem? They tend to think of SME as inexperienced, without resources and even without technical knowledge compared with them, and that is a huge mistake. First because it is false, and second because this way their are loosing a huge opportunity of improving their understanding on an specific technology. It is not by coincidence that SME have a better understanding of niche technologies, because their added value is to be specialized in field where big companies cannot reach, focusing on a tangible and nailed strategy with all their resources focused on it.
The European grants are a the perfect opportunity to create the perfect knowledge and capabilities mix, gathering together different aspects crucial for the evolution of the European technology (tech skills, economic capabilities, research knowledge, communication channels) and the combination of these aspects is a winning factor not only for achieving public grants, but for a real evolution for big companies. Probably this combined strategy proposed by the EC would give better results in the long term than the simply fact of trying to be everywhere at the cost of small companies. Big companies should look at these opportunities from the EC as a new opportunity and challenge for a better understanding of technology, new contacts, new experts in specific niches out of their scope, working together and adding efforts, making things easier.
Going alone trying to be the only one in a field seems like an old fashioned strategy from many decades ago. Today key aspects are collaboration, knowledge exchange, efforts combining and thats precisely what EC looks for. Thats the reason why the framework of collaboration proposed by the EU for these type of aids looks like a solid opportunity to understand and improve the way big and SME collaborate and big companies should look more carefully and review their internal strategies.
R&I Key Accounts at RTDI