‘Innflation’ (innovation + innflation) is the phenomenon whereby an increase in the supply of R&D is not reflected in a reduction in its price because there is a stimulated demand for the purchase of that R&D.

It´s the phenomenon that moves us away from dull innovation systems characterised by continuous price reduction due to oversupply and allows us to have thriving innovation systems characterised by long-term transfer relationships so that the R&D generated is transformed into innovation when successfully exploited.

A dull innovation system, in which the phenomenon of ‘innflation’ doesn´t occur, is characterised by the fact that the public resources allocated to the generation of R&D supply are public expenditure, because the agents that generate that supply are stressed and compete in a red ocean in terms of price. These are innovation systems dependent on the outside world with low and decreasing levels of productivity, characterised by the flight of talent.

Dull innovation system. Innovation system dependent on the outside world with low and decreasing levels of productivity, characterised by the flight of talent.”

It is therefore a question of implementing dual innovation policies that make it possible to sustain the supply of R&D, but also to stimulate the demand for R&D so that public resources are invested and not spent, to compete on value by creating blue oceans and not on price, undervaluing innovation, to have stimulated and efficient R&D agents, to use our own technology and promote our technological independence, and to have an impact on increasing productivity and retaining talent.

Stimulating demand for R&D must be done through systemic policies with a single, comprehensive visionthat includes:

  • Attractive tax deduction policies to stimulate new investors in innovation.
  • Industrial policy to increase the m2 of production plants equipped with their own technology (supply of R&D generated)
  • Education and employment policies to create and retain talent.
  • Communication and information policy to create culture, but, above all, innovation discipline.
  • Policies for the creation of technology-based companies based on the supply of R&D generated.

Stimulating demand will maintain long-term transfer relationships and have a positive effec on ‘innflation’ levels.

Innovate for you, innovate for me, innovate for us.

Food reformulation; a step forward, that it is possible

Food reformulation; a step forward, that it is possible

Currently, one of the factors directly associated with disease risk and mortality is unhealthy diets. These diets are characterised by low intakes of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low in essential fatty acids, low in fibre and a high in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats and additives. These diets and low intakes of essential nutrients are even greater concern to more vulnerable groups, raising the need to embark on a path of change.

As part of the need to make food systems healthier and more sustainable, healthier and more sustainable diets are required in which foods are formulated in a way that is more in line with nutritional recommendations, consumer tastes, more adapted to the limits of the planet´s existing resources, the advancement and availability of technology, all within the framework of existing regulations.

The food industry has become one of the focal points of the global Sustainable Development Agenda due to its contribution to GDP and importance in food security in developed and developing countries. In the implicit need for commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), real efforts need to be made to ensure efficiency in the food industry. As part of this strategy, innovation represents an important resource of competitive advantage for the sector.

According to the World Health Organisation, reformulation is a critical strategy for achieving these SDGs and even more, wso on the premise that these foods should be affordable.

Reformulation or modification of the composition or processing of foods and beverages is the perfect option to improve them, replacing or eliminating those components that can be potentially critical for our health or increasing those that provide some benefit. Reformulation builds on the foundations of food technology, but needs innovation to take that step from existing foods to those with a more up-to-date and global concept in line with health and sustainability trends.

Thus, innovation in food development is crucial not only in bringing new products to the market, but also in improving and streamlining the food industry´s own processes and in its mission to satisfy consumer needs.

Ideally, in my view, the focus should be on creating products that contribute to a healthy diet within the compelling framework of current and future needs for process efficiency and integrating the use of technologies that facilitate this.

Thus, innovation in food products and reformulation includes improvement from a nutritonal point of view; salt, sugar or fat, to cite some well-known examples, or the incorporation of ingredients that increase their value, such as dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.

First, we must focus on which are the aspects to be reformulated in order to integrate all the above-mentioned factors in this first point. In reality, there are many aspects to take into account, but we are going to pick out some of the most relevant ones:

  • Technological aspects: incorporation of ingredients to enrich or reduce the ingredients to improve the nutritional profile, ingredients to generate a functionality inside the product (texture, viscosity, conservation…) and the compatibility on the reformulation with the rest of ingredients, cost of production (ingredients, energy, water) needs of a special packaging, of a new technology.
  • Organoleptic considerations: improvement of sensory profile, texture and appearance.
  • Market trends: formats, sizes, increased shelf life, specific consumer demand (allergies, intolerances, etc.) demand for sustainability .
  • Other aspects: associated costs, impact on the environment, comersialitation vias, applicable regulations, etc.

As we can see, it is no doubt a complex venture to integrate all our desires into a single product.

In any case, and with the clear objective of where we want to go, we must take into account the type or types of ingredientes we are going to use in reformulation, how they are going to affect us from a technological point of view, the legislation that is applied to the product and the parameters related to safety and shelf life, and above all, the sensory acceptance by consumers.

The food industry must focus its efforts in alignment with health strategies and promote foods with a better nutritional profile, as well as being more sustainable and competitive. In this sense, aligning all the points that underpin this change includes the need to innovate in a smart, evidence-based way with healthier, more sustainable and safer foods where the use of technology and the integration of the circular economy are naturally present.

Paving this path between science and the market is CARTIF´s objective, where, from the Food area,we work on the generation of value proposals for the food industry, developing healthy and innovative foods that combine technical feasibility, economic profitability and always in line with consumer demand. In this way, also from theFood area we contribute to sustainable development in favour of a more prosperous society, with what we do best: innovate.

This is about essence..

This is about essence..

By essence is meant that which constitutes the nature of things, that which is permanent and unchanging in them. Essence means the unchanging characteristics that make a thing what it is and without which it wouldn´t be what it is.

The experience of 15 years working in a technology centre has allowed me to realise and appreciate the importance of keeping the essence for which the Technology Centres (TTCC from now on) are created.

TTCC as they are conceived are the hinges of innovation by opening and closing the opportunities of innovation systems and by having the mission to connect the other four actors of the systems: public administrations, reserach organisations, enterprises and society. As centres have such an important role to play in linking science and funding with competitiveness and value, a strong and clear long-term commitment is needed from all actors to achieve robust TTCC clusters in terms of size and availability of resources and infrastructures. Without going into who was the chicken or the egg first, there are numerous examples that demonstrate the link between the competitiveness and prosperity of regions and the existence of establishe TTCC that have been able to drive science towards their exploitation.

TTCC are those entities that should strive to seek collaboration to enhance the results and not for the generation of pure science; they are entities that acts as a lever to move the innovative culture of the regions, providing value and growth to society. They are entities that seek to transfer knwoledge generate impact. They are the key agents for the leveraging funds aimed at increasing business competitiviteness and, in short, they are agents that grease the innovation wheel so that it becomes a virtuous circle in the regions.

What should define and differentiate TTCC is the impact we generate in the industrial ecossytems to which we belong, an impact measure from an economic and social point of view. That is why a pure Technology Centre that preserves its essence must be able to incrementally influences and modify a technology and adapt it to the resolution of a problem. Therefore, TTCC must focus their sustainability and growth strategy on choosing which technology or technologies to act on in order to generate value. The most common tendency that distorts the role of a TC and distances it from its essence is to focus its strategy on a sector. The sector shouldn´t be the means but the end. There are no strategic sectors if there are technologies (otherwise we should be called sectoral centres, not technology centres)If you know and control a technology very well, you will have no obstacles to belong to the value chain of any sector and you can be excellent in technology and bring value to the ecosystems by implementing it, you can have the essence of a technology centre.

TTCC must find, defend and work to maintain our role within the industrial ecossytems to which we belong, but above all to maintain the essence for which we exist: to work for and behalf companies and society to generate value, sustainable growth and prosperity. In short, we must work to generate innovation because this is the only way to preserve our essence.

The story of my centre. In search of happiness

The story of my centre. In search of happiness

CARTIF was born, like many other technology centres, in the heart of a university department. In our case, our General Director José R.Perán created it almost 30 years ago in the department of systems and automatic engineering of the School of Industrial Engineering of the Univesity of Valladolid.

The center is growing and evolving in terms of the knowledge acquired, the number of researches that form part of it, as well as the facilities it has at its disposal.

It was in 2008 when I joined CARTIF, and I found that the centre was inmersed in the process of implementing a Marketing Plan drawn up by experts in the field with the objective of selling the technologies and knowledge that the centre had at that time to companies identified in that plan. At that time, the centre had a market-oriented installed capacity of almost 50% of its resources. In other words, half of the staff was clearly focused on transfer. With this installed capacity, returns were approximately 40%, i.e. almost half of the centre´s income came from turnover from companies.

With the “big” marketing plan, CARTIF launches itself into the market, devoting even more resources to try to make transfer, but obtaining practically the same results… The centre´s growth was stagnating and the national public funding crisis was threatening back in 2011. The centre began to dedicate resources to the European Framework Programme, in view of the predicted shortage of nacional funds, becoming the main programme from 2017-2018, when the era of kick-offs, work packages and the anxiety that the officer would admit us to the deliverable began…CARTIF researches at that time only had in their heads infodays, deadlines and reports… The level of stress was increasing due to the demands of the justifications.

A few years later, on 13 March 2020 every person at CARTIF walked out the door witht our computers and screens. A state of alarm was to be proclaimed, we were in a worldwide coronavirus pandemic… Hospitals were collapsed, nursing homes were armoured, it was a global emergency. The market was crying out for help… The market was knocking at the door.

CARTIF uses all the knowledge and technologies at its disposal. It starts to manufacture the famous PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for healthcare workers, to provide sterilisation equipment,… The researchers are proud, they want more, for the first time in a long time they don’t have to convince the market, they just have to offer what it asks for.

The centre clicks again after a period of confusion and the transfer culture that has always existed reappears, this time reinforced with the new deputy general manager, reminding us of what we are: the agent that responds to the calls, and not calls, of the market.

Because the technology centres are the agent that acts as a hinge between science and the market, we have to stop the erroneous tendency to generate and then transfer, which is typical of a research organisation. Technology centres must internalise our role as agents of innovation, making researches become technologists, think about the market and feel proud and happy to help the business fabric and also as a natural extension to society.

Because only this way… We will be happy!

Connecting ideas with markets: the role of business development on innovation

Connecting ideas with markets: the role of business development on innovation

In the vibrant landscape of innovation and research and development (R&D), where ideas flourish and creativity meets technology, business development emerges as the essential bridge between theoretical potential and practical realisation. At CARTIF Technology Centre, we recognise that this bridge is not merely an additional step in the R&D&I process, but an integral component that determines the success and sustainability of our innovations in the marketplace.

Business development in the context of R&D&I is not limited to the search for commercial opportunities for existing products or services; it is an strategic integration that starts from the very conception of the research. It means aligning research and development objectives with market needs from the outset, identifying niches where innovation can not only enter but also expand and dominate.

Valorising innovation, the process in which technological knowledge is transformed into viable market applications, requires a deep understanding of the business ecosystem. At CARTIF, we strive to understand market dynamics, industry trends and consumer needs. This approach allow us to not only anticipate change but also to be part of the driving force behind it, ensuring that our innovations are both relevant and revolutionary.

Business development also involves building and maintaining a strong network of contacts, including industrial, academic and financial partners. These collaborations are crucial to the success of R&D&I, as they provide the resources, knowledge and capital needed to bring innovations from the lab to the market. At CARTIF, we value these collaborations as the core of our business development strategy, fostering an ecosystem where innovation can thrive.

By aiming to create business models for companies based on the results we transfer to them, we not only add value to our work but also maximise business opportunities for our clients. This dual approach ensures that we are not only transfering technology, but that we are actively participating in the creation of sustainable economic opportunities for the companies that collaborate with us.

One of the main advantages of this integrated approach is the minimisation of risk for companies investing in our technology. By being able to generate business models directly, we offer our customers a clear path to return on their investment. This clarity and security of investment is essential to fostering a culture of bold innovation, where companies feels empowered to adopt new technologies knowing that they have a solid business model behind them to support their success.

Business development is undoubtedly the catalyst that allows innovation ideas to become successful commercial realities. At CARTIF Technology Centre, we understand that integrating business development strategies into the R&D&I process is not just an option, but a necessity to ensure that our innovations are not only pioneering, but also impactful and sustainable in the marketplace. By putting business development at the heaet of our R&D strategy, we ensure that the bridge between theory and practice is not only solid but also well-trodden, taking innovation from concept to successful commercialisation.

Innovating in capital letters: r+d+I

Innovating in capital letters: r+d+I

I´ve always thought that the acronym R&D&i corresponded to the greater or lesser risk of carrying out the associated activities, hence the first two were capital letters and the third was lower case.

After 15 years working in a technology centre I realise that referring to research and development in capital letters and innovation in lower case affects the idea people have of these types of activities. Psychologically, what is internalised, in my view, is that innovation is less important than research and development.

On the basis that innovation is a risky activity that is carried out and whose result is closer to its implementation and, therefore, increases the possibilities of generating value, competitiveness and, ultimately, prosperity, I believe that innovation deserves, at the very least,to be written in capital letters as well.

Likewise, the experience working in CARTIF has also made me reflect on the result of this sum of three variables: R&D&I, on the dependent variable of the equation… For me, the result is clearly the generation of IMPACT. And it is impact in two directions: research and development generate impact on the state of the art that innovation does not generate and that is materialised, mainly in articles and patents, which anyone anywhere in the world can take advantage of. Innovation generates impact on the market given that, in the words of Professor Xavier Ferrás, “innovation is the successful exploitation of an idea with risk, which materialises mainly in profits and growth, localised in a specific point”

Xavier Ferrás.

Technology centres are entities created to take on risky tasks and create technological knowledge, but above all we are entities created to make the most of this technological knowledge and apply it in the market and transform it into economic and social benefit.

It is therefore important for a technology centre to work to ensure that r&d generate innovation, trying to give value to the results so that the market internalises and understands the results generated and exploits them successfully. It is important to rely on collaborators to speed up processes of obtaining results and, above all, to speed up the process of transformin r&d into I. In short, it is about collaborating to gain value. It is also about helping to build efficient innovation systems, adjusting the obtaining of results with risks to the demands of the market from the beginnig of the conception of the result so that there is no time and/or technological lag between generation and exploitation that burden the innovation systems with inneficiencies and breaks in their gears. It is important to contextualise the framework for action at a global level rin order to advance the state of the art by gaining positions, but to act locally in the valorisation and transfer processes, so that the economic benefit is passed on to our local systems. All of this is key for innovation ecosystems to come into being, increase their capacities and consolidate over time. All of this is key so that innovation leads to more innovation.