Marco Franchin: Social innovation will provide new ways to tackle important challenges the society faces
CategoriesDissemination EU Project

In our latest #MeetTheTeam interview, we talk with Marco Franchin, Senior Consultant at META Group. We discuss his work on knowledge valorisation, trends in innovation, and challenges and opportunities when working in this sector.

Marco has been with META Group since July 2019. He is a senior consultant with more than 15 years of experience in innovation services, exploitation of research and development (R&D) results, entrepreneurship strategies, and state aids and funding for young entrepreneurs. He has a background in International Relations from the University of Padua and Business Administration from the University of Bath. He is very passionate about military history and also a film buff, which is something we take advantage of when we need recommendations for good movies. 

What do you do at META Group? What is a typical day at work for you? 
I manage various projects in which META Group is responsible for the dissemination and exploitation of research results. I have been also involved in proposal writing and training delivery and I am one of the senior experts providing support within Horizon Results Booster. 
What is it like working on research valorisation? What does it involve? 
It is extremely challenging and stimulating. It involves curiosity, flexibility, patience, and dedication.  
More precisely, it means working with research organisations and making sure that the results they produce are geared towards solving problems, can be exploited, and can have significant impact. 
Very often, these partnerships include multiple actors, such as NGOs, private institutions and public authorities that may have different priorities or ideas when it comes to what research should focus on. My job is to analyse options and make recommendations considering the potential impact and sustainability of the research so the outcomes will have practical applications and will be leveraged for commercial or societal benefits. 
What project(s) or assignment(s) are you currently involved in? What is the most exciting part of it? 
I am currently involved in a project called RADIANT in which we are working on identifying new value chains for underutilised crops, meaning neglected species that hold great potential to diversify agricultural systems and diets. 
META Group is the exploitation partner with the aim to design a proper exploitation strategy to secure the use and generate impact. The most exciting part of this project is to help researchers identify the most promising key exploitable results. 
What is the most challenging part of your job? 
To convince researchers and academics of the importance of a coherent and accurate definition of their exploitation strategies. Even though the research landscape has changed a lot in the last few years, most of them are still considering that dissemination and exploitation are not relevant and part of their duties. 
What do you like most about your job? 
The fact that, even though META Group is operating in a (so-called) niche, I feel part of a company that with its experience and expertise can provide a remarkable contribution to assure that research results are somehow used and may generate the impact needed to keep EU economy and society competitive. Moreover, I work in an environment where I have the opportunity to grow and improve my skills. 
What are some of the challenges facing the clients, partners, or beneficiaries you work with? How can they be addressed in your opinion?  
With regard to institutional donors, such as the European Commission, one of the biggest challenges is to have a return in terms of competitiveness of the European ecosystem from the huge investments in research activities they have been funding for so many years. 
We also work a lot with start-ups and would-be entrepreneurs to make their business ideas more bankable and investment ready, which is one of their main challenges. 
Our work with researchers, on the other hand, focuses on understanding the right approach and starting point to make sure that the results generated by their activities can be used and generate impact. 
How does META Group help? Why is it important? 
Over the years, META Group developed an accurate methodology that is problem- rather than technology-driven and starts from the definition of the Key Exploitable Results. This approach had been successfully applied by working with over 2000 consortia supported at any technology readiness level. 
What are some trends you see in the sector you work in?  
I would say a trend is for sure social innovation. In the following years, some problems such as social inclusion, healthcare access and affordability, and poverty alleviation, might be tackled and solved by using new technologies and innovative approaches that can supplement the traditional methods used by the public sector so far. 
Do you have a nice memory from your time with META Group that you would like to share?  
When I run an exploitation workshop in Gdansk (Poland) for the AAL2Business service. Because of the COVID pandemic, it was the first workshop delivered in person in a long time. 
After many years of online deliveries, I experienced the difference in interacting with people in person. It has been challenging and tough but eventually, I had the positive feeling that I managed to support the beneficiaries to make a step further in the definition of their go-to-market strategies.

Check out other interviews with Anita TregnerAntonello Fiorucci, and Lorenzo Barabani