The PNRR Lacks the Ambition to Be a Technology Provider
Put simply, the plan has the point of view of the technology supplier country for one part in 200, of the customer for the rest.
For a country it is essential to be a supplier of advanced technologies, not just a buyer of technologies. Unfortunately, this ambition is absent in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, both in the current version and in the previous draft, and unfortunately in many of the proposed changes. This is not a new problem, also present in the national Industry 4.0 initiative.
Almost all the investments in innovation envisaged in the PNRR aim at improving the internal processes of the Public Administration, the health system, businesses and transport.
They are certainly important things. The problem is that only a tiny fraction of investments is dedicated to enhancing the ability of national companies to provide new technologies and compete in new high-tech markets. Let’s look at the numbers.
Interventions Explicitly Dedicated to Technology Suppliers
In a PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) of around 200 billion euros, there are only two interventions explicitly dedicated to technology suppliers: 750 million destined to enhance investments in the microelectronics industry, in which we have a national sample in STMicroelectronics (half Italian and half French, for accuracy), and a minority share of 900 million in the satellite Constellation and National Institute of Earth Observation, which will increase the technological capabilities of some national companies in the space sector. In all, approximately 1 billion of the approximately 200 billion is actually destined to help our companies gain or maintain leadership positions in high-tech markets.
Simplifying, the plan has the point of view of the technology supplier country for one part out of 200, of the customer for the rest. 4.0, of which the chapter Transition 4.0 of the PNRR is the continuation.
European Countries Decisions
The comparison with the choices of Germany and France clarifies the point better. Germany has promoted the Industry 4.0 initiative with the aim of making German companies both the largest buyers and the largest suppliers of technologies for the digital revolution. It also privileged in the initiative those technologies in which German companies can aspire to be market leaders.
France, less ambitious because it has a very weakened industrial base over time, has decided to concentrate investments on a dozen new technological markets in which there are national champions who can aspire to leadership, if well supported, and on a second dozen markets in which there are national companies capable of conquering the position behind the leader.
In the Italian case, companies are left free to make investments in a wide range of technologies, typically defined by large American consulting firms, as long as some general requirements are met, giving up concentrating efforts. technical, but limited resources.
In order not to lose relevance as an industrial power, it needs national companies to be able to become leaders in new high-tech markets, even niche ones, better if not limited to the German production chain.
To favor this outcome, it is necessary to take the initiative and concentrate a significant part of the PNRR resources on those technological sectors in which there are networks of our companies capable of competing, if adequately supported. These are choices that obviously belong to politics, having listened to the industrial and technological actors of the country, which it is important not to give up.