Radical Innovation at Italian Manufacturer - IndustryWeek Article
Posted by Machines Italia | 01 Jun 2012
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Devoting 11-12% of sales to R&D has proven to be a successful strategy for SAES Getters, a producer of scientific and industrial applications where stringent vacuum conditions or ultra high pure gases are required.
SAES' product applications span from the display industry, in all its forms from conventional CRTs to the new generations of flat displays, to the manufacturing of components used in several and diversified electronic devices ranging from x-ray tubes to wafer-level MEMS, from applications in particle accelerators and in large vacuum systems for physical experiments to solutions supporting the lamp, semiconductor, optoelectronic and automotive industries.
I recently toured the company's research and development lab in Milan arranged by Machines Italia, as part of the Italian Trade Commission. During a presentation Giulio Canale, deputy group CEO and group financial officer, explained that the company moved from a closed innovation model to an open one. "Working with customers, major labs and universities we are able to innovate at a faster pace than we could achieve by only focusing internally," Canale explained.
The company now refers to its method of discovery as radical innovation. And radical is a good term to describe how the company had to overcome an adverse economic situation in one of its products lines. In 2007 the company enjoyed a high percentage of its sales from one particular product line and earned a nice margin as well. Sales were at €90 million (US$112 million). By 2011 sales were less than €1 million and Canale predicts that the product line will not see any sales in 2013.
Luckily the company has a track record of innovation, filing patent applications every year for eight to ten new inventions, and was able to innovate its way out of the financial crisis.
In fact last year the company won the 49th Annual R&D 100 Awards for the NEXTorr D 100-5 pump which is a non evaporaive geter pump integraing geter and ion pumping technologies into a single high performance, light and compact device. It was created at the Milan lab.
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