R&D Conference – Milan 2018

Greetings from Milan

The R&D Management Conference 2018, organised by Polotecnico di Milano, in Milan has been a forum where academics and practitioners have been collaborating to push forward the frontiers of our knowledge on R&D and innovation topics.

The papers and discussions focused on a broad variety of topics of interest to our community, such as, to mention some of them:

  • Big Data Analytics for R&D management
  • Business model innovation
  • Collaboration and networking
  • Digital platforms and digital technologies
  • Disruptive Innovation and Organisational Change
  • Implementing open innovation: from theory to practice
  • Innovation dynamics and organizational performance: novel strategies and approaches
  • Innovation ecosystems
  • R&D management and international business
  • Regional innovation management: perspectives from enterprise, clusters and ecosystems
  • Team, leadership & organization for creativity and innovation
  • University-industry collaborations

This wide and diverse set of research topics offered fertile ground for enhancing our mutual insights into how new societal and technological trends are changing the way in which innovation and R&D are managed, opening up new opportunities for established organizations and new ventures.

Many bonds grew across research interests and across continents. Amongst the participants, more than 30 countries were represented.

The Ph.D. Colloquium

The Ph.D. Colloquium attracted 43 highly motivated Ph.D. students and a rich plethora of experts from academia and industry who engaged in critical but constructive discussions on their research ambitions. Professors Vittorio Chiesa, Federico Frattini, Davide Chiaroni, Simone Franzò and Angelo Cavallo monitored the Ph.D. weekend with great success and enthusiasm.

The “Night Life”

During their stay, the participants were able to enjoy various social activities in the historic setting of the city of Milan, spreading from Villa Necchi to Just Cavalli for the classic Milanese Aperitif to the Museo della Scienza for the Gala Dinner. The mix of research and social events proved to be an exciting and valuable one.

The Keynote Speeches and the Executive Roundtables

The keynotes were followed by a lively discussion that set the tone for the many parallel sessions that followed. Specifically, the Academic Keynote speeches were delivered by:

  • Melissa Schilling, Professor of Management & Organizations at New York University, USA – The Multifaceted Roles of Collaboration in Innovation
  • Frank Piller, Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at RWTH Aachen University (DE) – Innovation in the Age of Smart Products & Services: How the Industrial Internet of Things and Digitalization are changing our innovation system
  • Annabelle Gawer, Professor of Digital Economy at Surrey Business School, UK – Digital platforms and ecosystems: Innovation, competition, and power in the digital economy
  • Gianvito Lanzolla, Professor of Strategy, Cass Business School, City University of London – Capturing value from innovations in digital environments

The Executive Keynote speeches on “Digital Transformation & innovation” were delivered by:

  • Christopher Bishop, Technical Fellow and Laboratory Director, Microsoft Research Cambridge
  • Carlo Purassanta, Area Vice President @ Microsoft

The Executive Roundtable on “Innovation, Sustainability and the Future of Work” saw the participation of the following speakers, moderated by Luca de Biase, Innovation Editor at IlSole24Ore and Nòva24:

  • Carlo Capè, Co-Founder and CEO @ BIP
  • Manlio Ciralli, Chief Brand & Innovation Officer Italy, Eastern Europe, EMEA, India @ The Adecco Group
  • Massimo Della Porta, Group CEO @ SAES Group
  • Neil Sholay, Vice President Innovation EMEA and J-APAC @ Oracle

The Executive Keynote speeches on “Innovation in the Era of Exponential Technologies” saw the participation of the following speakers, moderated by Maurizio Melis, Broadcast Presenter of “Smart City” Radio 24:

  • Giovanni Tagliabue, Director of Business Innovation & Development @ ‎Edison SpA
  • Matteo Codazzi, CEO @ CESI
  • Clive Higgins, Chief Operating Officer @ Exaptive Inc.

Thematic Workshops

The workshops were intended as cross-fertilization events where to discuss the transformational challenges caused by technological and societal trends, mixing academics, practitioners and companies. The workshops were Co-chaired by a Company expert and an academic professor. Here below the topic and the sponsoring company of the workshops delivered:

  • Title: Design Thinking: Blending Design, Creativity and Innovation
    Sponsor: BIP
    Academic Speaker: Roberto Verganti
  • Title: Innovation and the Future of Work
    Sponsor: Adecco
    Academic Speaker: Mariano Corso
  • Title: New materials applied to the energy generation from Renewable Energy Sources
    Sponsor: Enel Green Power
    Academic Speaker: Prof. Dotelli
  • Title: Orchestrating Platforms for Innovation
    Sponsor: Oracle
    Academic Speaker: Giuliano Noci
  • Title: Open Innovation: New Challenges and Opportunities
    Sponsor: Pirelli
    Academic Speaker: Federico Frattini
  • Title: Innovating the Innovation Process: Tools and Methods for R&D Management
    Sponsor: SAES Getters
    Academic Speaker: Simone Franzò
  • Title: Building digital cities that facilitate innovation
    Sponsor: Exaptive
    Academc speaker: Davide Chiaroni
  •  Title: Innovation in operation & quality: a focus on additive manufacturing
    Sponsor: Zeiss
    Academic Speaker: Antonio Ghezzi
  • Title: Digital innovation in education
    Sponsor: Fadpro
    Academic Speaker: Federico Frattini
  • Title: Organizing for Innovation: Responding to a Fast-Changing Digital Environment
    Sponsor: Edison
    Academic Davide Chiaroni
  • Title: Digitally-Enabled Business Model Innovation: the case of the Energy Sector
    Sponsor: Cesi
    Academic Speaker: Antonio Ghezzi

Call 4 Ideas

Individuals from the main Italian universities were invited to pitch their ideas in front of academics and practitioners and receive feedbacks and suggestions (run in partnership with PoliHub and Politecnico di Milano TTO – Technology Transfer Office).

Ideas presented:

GreenValve: GreenValve is a new concept of control valve that recovers part of the energy that is commonly dissipated by the control valves. GreenValve System allow replacing a control valve with a stand-alone system for IOT and smart-system applications.

Dirty Sensing: Dirty Sensing, designs, installs and manages IoT networks for real-time monitoring and optimized management of systems, providing tailor-made solutions to control and improve water quality and safety.

Selective and interactive device for dynamic control of electromagnetic radiation: The device allows the switch from a warm light in winter to a cold light in summer. These characteristic variables make it the only dynamic-passive product applicable to transparent surfaces of small and medium size.

Ener Tun: Ener Tun is a prefabricated structural element for tunnel cladding that allows exchanging heat with the adjacent ground in order to produce thermal energy. It can be used in the construction of tunnels dug by TBM, the so-called ‘moles’, transforming the tunnel itself into a heat exchanger with the ground to create air conditioning and heating systems for buildings on the surface and to produce hot water.

Water-oil flow meter: A simple, low-cost device to measure the flow rates of the phases for viscous oil – water flows in the core annular and dispersed flow regimes” o se serve più lungo: “A simple, low-cost device to measure the flow rates of the phases for viscous oil – water flows in the core annular and dispersed flow regimes, based on a Venturi flow meter, two pressure transducers and a thermocouple.

SafeSpeed: Flexible and tunable hw/sw solution to guarantee thermal safety for heavy-duty processors preserving maximum possible speed under highly and unpredictably varying loads.

Hyppo: Saving power in the datacenter era

Mise-en-Scene: In project Mise-en-Scene, we aim at bridging the gap between Art and AI. The main goal is to build intelligent systems that learn artistic tastes of people and generate recommendations based on that.

Random Number Generation: Nonvolatile memory devices of next-generation IoT enable embedded random number generation (RNG) and physical unclonable function (PUF) for data/hardware security.

Visihologic: VisiHologic develops specific software solutions for the holographic rendering of patient specific anatomies: with advanced proprietary algorithms we can accurately reconstruct 3D dynamic models giving clinicians an intuitive, immersive and enhanced view of their pathological target.

M.O.I: Moi’s technology merges the performances of composite materials with the potentialities of Additive Manufacturing. The patented CFM system is capable to 3D print high performances parts combining robotics with digital fabrication in order to produce employable objects and shift from mass production to mass personalization.

BlueSentinel: Bluesentinel, a complete indoor positioning solution for industrial IoT

Electronic Nose:  Electronic Nose Device is a wearable device for workers that operate in unhealthy work environments.The main purpose is to provide continuous monitoring of indoor air quality – in particular volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon dioxide -, to give real-time feedback to operators on the level of contaminants monitored, and suggest him/her to use adequate protection systems.

GeDy Trass: GeDy TrAss provides a support during the pre-design phase with the help of a numerical-analytical and easy-to-use software. When the gearbox producer has few input parameters and a raw idea about the transmission design, the software leads to a skimming of the possible solutions. It takes into account the durability, the static and dynamic behaviour and finally the possible microgeometry optimization to reduce NVH problems ensure high performances and valuable outputs for the following design phases.

Smart Robots:  The centralization of the worker in the factory 4.0

Start Up Pitch

Start-ups were invited to pitch their business ideas and trigger discussion and networking with academic and practitioners – in partnership with PoliHub.

Startups invited:

Tree Solutions

Tree Heating Solution is a service to increase the efficiency of heating systems, by means of innovative technology that increases the efficiency of the existing system. THS allows the owner of a large building to save immediately, without any investment! The “BRAIN by Tree Solutions” is a solution composed of a device to be installed in a thermal power plant, an innovative control logic and a cloud platform to transform thermal plants into IoT objects. As a proper brain, it receives high frequency data from sensors and processes them in order to control the system and reduce its energy consumption.

Zaphiro Technologies

Zaphiro Technologies offers a real-time monitoring and automation system that helps electrical utilities to operate their grid more reliably, efficiently and cost effectively during both normal and fault conditions. The combination of high-accuracy clamp-on current sensors with measurement devices integrating both Phasor Measurement Unit (PMU) and Power Quality (PQ) features, provides full grid observability at a relatively low price. A central grid controller that processes the measurement in real-time, represents a complete and scalable solution that integrates monitoring, control, and fault management features in a single platform.


Idroplan is the intelligent component of irrigation systems, both new and old generation. We monitor the most important parameters of the soil through a reliable and scalable network of low-cost nodes. Our dashboard reworks the collected data and provides useful suggestions for a correct irrigation management, with the aim of guaranteeing the right amount of water to the crop, at the right time. Our mission is to guarantee the long-term sustainability of intensive agriculture.

Quant Co.

It is time to end concerns over lack of analytical capabilities to develop scalable, innovative and digital energy business models. Quant Co. is defining the state-of-the-art in energy analytics! Quant Co. develops high-end analytical tools for the renewable energy sector. Our first tool, PreD, is a real-time data management platform with embedded algorithms which aims to reduce power plants cost of imbalance caused by forecast errors. PreD guides its users on how to adjust their market position in order for decreasing the difference between forecasts and actual generations through its three modules: bid optimization, dynamic track, match & offset.

Ribes Tech

Ribes Tech srl is a company that produces and commercializes flexible and cost-effective photovoltaic (PV) films. These PV modules are printed in mass volumes on cheap plastic foils in any shape or color. The resulting modules are flexible and extremely lightweight. Initially developed and optimized for converting sunlight into electricity, we soon found out that our technology is actually very effective also for indoor applications, where it is the best energy-harvesting option. For example, our chargers, easily customizable to be integrated in any type of device, provide energy for networks of thousands of sensors and electronic devices, enabling the real Internet of Things.


Nowadays, communicating with customers becomes more and more expensive and users are more and more demanding, expecting Brands to address their problems and their requests promptly and quickly. That’s why Userbot is born, a service that offers Artificial and Human Intelligence solutions for the automation of conversations between Brands and Consumers. The best thing about Userbot is that it learns from conversations with humans and offers a proprietary CRM.


Morpheos creates innovative services thanks to the experience in proprietary software solutions and advanced electronic hardware. We love designing products with multiple functionalities, simple to use and able to improve life at home or in the office. Our home robot, Momo – The Home Genius, is an Artificial Intelligence system that protects the house and its inhabitants by independently developing home automations and by learning from your behavior. Momo is able to share technologies and features with other devices in the home, for a complete smart experience.


Ermes Cyber ​​Security is an innovative startup and spin-off of the Politecnico di Torino. Ermes is a platform that, thanks to patented algorithms based on machine learning and big data, helps companies to defend themselves from the risks caused by Web trackers. Ermes platform allows companies to filter the web browsing of each company device, authorizing the lawful ones and blocking the ones associated with Web trackers. The platform works in a totally automatic way, offering updated protection in real time.


Artiwise provides scalable text analytics solutions to customers to increase their analytics capability on unstructured text data such as customer emails, feedbacks, opened text surveys, news, social media so on. Artiwise is a cloud based SAAS (Software as a Service) Machine Learning and NLP supported Text Analytic Platform. Through Artiwise data analysts and application developers can do the data modelling without knowledge of machine learning. In addition, teams that work close to the customers such as marketing experts, customer’s managers, and media agency can use the smart dashboards.


Math&Sport brings the sports analysis to a whole new level. It developed two platforms: Virtual Coach is dedicated to optimizing game strategies, pre-match or even in real time; MOViDA is designed for the optimization of the individual technical gesture. In both cases the starting point is data collected with video tracking systems, with no use of sensors. The differentiating element is the “Mathematics” which lies in the heart of these two platforms and which allows to process a large amount of data providing reliable and personalized information


Springa is an innovative startup and spin-off of the Politecnico di Milano. It designed and developed Goliath, a mobile machine tool for unlimited cutting and engraving. The innovative working mode solves some of the problems of traditional CNC machines, such as limited work area, encumbrance, high price and mobility. Goliath is placed directly on the surface to cut, allowing to have a work area that is potentially without limits. It uses three omnidirectional wheels, which allow the robot to move without constraints on the surface. It allows high control of the position, thanks to the sensors placed on the robot and on the panel.

Smart Factory

Smart Factory is a technological start-up. Our mission is to make Industry 4.0 a reality, bringing manufacturers closer to the advantages of a Smart Factory, leveraging technology as enabling factor for an interconnected, intelligent, and better performing factory thanks to a better human-machine collaboration. Our automation solutions are the ultimate technological innovation for assembling. Flexim open automation platform is extremely innovative and unique on the market, and comes with significant advantages: it is a modular system, easy and fast to reprogram, efficient and silent.

Bottega 52

Bottega52 designs, implements, distributes and maintains Cloud, IoT and Big Data solutions. Bottega52 is a Software House: it engineers, deploys, and maintains custom, tailor made full-stack software solutions, with a focus on the Internet of Things and Cloud Infrastructures. Bottega 52 is also a system integrator: it integrates existing software stacks for the benefit of its customers’ businesses; it is specialized in integrating hardware devices within cloud infrastructure, following its IoT mission.


ACROME is a company that offers robotics-mechatronics systems design and control solutions for industrial and educational use. ACROME provides affordable, intuitive and easy to use industrial robotic arm solutions (ACROME ROBOT) for your industrial plant. ACROME develops and produces control system plants for academic and educational use (ACROME myCONTROL). Finally, ACROME provides turnkey solutions in the field of Embedded System Control, Test Bench Design, and Development and Data Acquisition (ACROME PROJECT).

Next Industries

Next Industries was founded in 2014 with the aim of “connecting the real world”, bringing the analog signals of the physical world into the digital world. Next Industries designs and manufactures high accuracy data acquisition loggers, gateway and sensors provided with Internet of Things technology. Thanks to wireless connectivity our device is able to communicate with the cloud, to manage alarms or notifications. Landslide events in environmental applications or strain in a pipeline can be monitored with our sensors and loggers. The data sending is made thanks to the gateway and through internet the user can view data and analyze them.


Many thanks

Let me conclude this brief overview of an exciting 2018 conference by thanking RADMA and the R&D Management Journal, in particular Ellen Enkel, Letizia Mortara and Jeremy Klein for their continuous support and advice, all the reviewers and session chairs who were instrumental in bringing together a high quality group of researchers and papers, the Cambridge colleagues who enabled a smooth and efficient conference transfer, and last but not least, Simona Strepparola, Mirja Calgaro, Marta Re Ferre’, Martina Ulzega , Giorgio Forestiero, who ran an exemplary conference organization. They all did an excellent job and we are thankful to them.

So, we are ready to move to Paris. Looking forward to seeing you all in Paris next year. Success to the Paris team!

Post written by Vito Manfredi Latilla on behalf of the Milan Organizing Committee.