Nowadays, our economies exist within an international context of intense and constant change. The ever-growing processes of economic integration have been the main actors in the significant political and economic transformations that have taken place since the last quarter of the 20th century. These transformations have led to an escalation of the globalization process, which has already reached dimensions beyond any limits previously experienced by our society.
Vanguard economies like the Catalan economy have witnessed the rise of a challenge which is growing in importance and which concerns their traditional positioning within the market. Hence the relevance of the markets is no longer determined solely by the economic powers which have played an important role throughout history, but also by the progress of emergent economies, which are currently the main actors in most of the global commercial exchanges. It has been a long time since international commerce was only dominated by a competition of costs. There are many other elements that determine its mechanisms. In fact, in 2006, China allocated 1.42 per cent of its GDP to research and development activities, with a strong and ever-growing predominance of the private sector and of foreign capital.
This situation represents a challenge for our economy, but at the same time, it generates an opportunity that cannot be ignored: The more developed economies must take the definite leap towards the new productive model, in a context where specialization, incorporation of innovations and product differentiation are widely recognized by the market. Now, more than ever, the market acknowledges the process of permanent change inside our productive foundation currently directed toward an open and international economy based on knowledge, talent, research and development, innovation and new technologies.
Within this context, the best strategy would be to concentrate all efforts on consolidating the advantages which make us competitive worldwide.
Furthermore, Catalonia presents itself as the ideal environment for developing activities of high added value, which are creative and innovative, since we posses the necessary infrastructure as well as a very qualified and competitive human capital in a highly appropriate environment.
Catalan enterprises are fully aware of their possibilities and they consider innovation to be the necessary path to take in order to increase their competitiveness, not only in the local market, but also at an international level through their internationalization.
Although the enterprise itself should internalize this ever growing need, the government also plays an important role. The government backs awareness campaigns, as well as other aspects related to the creation and promotion of a suitable environment for the economy, which enables the economy to conquer the challenge of growing with a model based on innovation and knowledge. This model will make it possible for us to become more productive and globally competitive. From within the government, we should be the ones to enact these global changes internally.
ACC1Ó: a strategic bet for the benefit of Catalan enterprises
The alignment of politics and business strategies is now a fundamental factor that should make it possible to generate synergies and achieve the best results of public performances of support to the enterprises. The ACC1Ó, a new agency formed by the integration of the CIDEM (Centre of Innovation and Business Development) and the COPCA (Catalan Syndicate for Commercial Promotion), which were previously the main points of reference for innovation and internationalization, will make it possible for enterprises to achieve their goals.
The fundamental task of the ACC1Ó is to combine the significant interaction between innovation and internationalization, two concepts that are nowadays joined, with the aim of encouraging other lines of work which have not yet been studied in depth. Examples of such include new management of human resources at the enterprises, the acquisition of technological talent and capital, or the creation and consolidation of knowledge networks. ACC1Ó was born as a response to the new reality, presenting itself as a pioneer organization, proactive and willing to serve the public in a dynamic, agile and efficient way.
ACC1Ó’s potential of responding to business needs is based on a series of activities, which can be briefly summarized as follows:
• To promote cooperative projects between different units, adopting a wider and more strategic perspective
• To dynamize and promote the different technological networks that operate within Catalan territory; promotion, evaluation, commercialization and technological supervision at the centres which generate knowledge
• To reinforce the competitiveness of mature clusters and to encourage the internationalization of the sectors exposed to international competitors.
• To support innovative and technology-based enterprises throughout all phases of their projects, from the creation to the start-up, growth and internationalization.
• To offer 1st level programme for supporting the internationalization of Catalan enterprises, and one step beyond, their multinationalization.
• To encourage a new generation of Catalan enterprises of multinational status.
• To encourage innovation, was its technological and non-technological conception.
The creation of ACC1Ó accompanied by a legislative process, which was developed during 2008. The Law of Industry will allow the government to assume competencies included in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy in matters of industrial policies, providing this new agency with legal coverage.
Additionally, we are currently working on the new Strategic Plan 2009–2012, which will guide the activity of ACC1Ó for the next four years. It is an innovative strategic plan which will strengthen our capacities and will undoubtedly position us as points of reference for business support in Catalonia. ACC1Ó works by and for the enterprises. It is the result of a compromise between the government and non-governmental business support agencies. We aim to coordinate our activities and detect the needs of the enterprises even before they do.
This is, without a doubt, the time to carry on, to keep our view, more than ever before, on the future in order to be able to build it in a strong way. It is the time to face the global challenges together; to work together for our future and establish a solid foundation to make the coming years prosperous for our enterprises and our economy.
Ms Botifoll held, amongst others, appointments as director of the Mechanics Department at ICICT, S.A., director of the private foundation “Consejlo Tecnológico del Bages”. Director of the CTM (Technological Centre of Manresa) – as part of the UPC – and member of the governing council of FEDIT. Currently, Carme Botifoll is Director General of Innovation and Internationalization and Director of the CIDEM.