Innovation is not a goal in itself: it’s an answer to daily needs

March, 13 2014

Whirlpool Corporation – the home appliance giant – is experimenting with new approaches to strategic innovation: “We believe that innovation is not a goal in itself. First of all, it is driven by the will to provide answers to daily needs”, says Mauro Piloni, president and CEO of Whirlpool R&D and global vice president of Whirlpool Corporation R&D. He has a 25-year career at Whirlpool and he’s going to participate in the panel “Innovation for Growth” (the next meeting of the Ambrosetti Club TITT Community, Thursday, March 20th, in Milan).

R&D, nowadays, is based on a new geography of skills, which includes electronics, cloud, web and food science: this is one of the reasons why Research and Development, at Whirlpool, are strictly connected with commercialization. The R&D&C department counts more than 4,500 people all over the world. Piloni’s team is composed of 1,400 people, distributed in US, Europe, Brazil, India and China. A global researchers staff, with an average age under 40 years in the US and Europe, and under 30 in the Far East.

“We participate in the Technology Forum – continues Mauro Piloni – to strengthen our links to daily needs, to make them more direct; with a kind of humility, we are here to understand, to confirm our guidelines and to capture the new trends.”

That’s also the attitude which inspired the creation of SIFOOD (Food Science & Innovation district): launched by Whirlpool R&D at the end of 2012, it aims to catch a new trend, which soon will be dominant, the reduction of waste in the food chain. Members of SIFood are companies in the agrifood sector, universities, institutions and associations and they have basically two areas of activity: analysing big data to create anti -waste profiles and developing new technologies to manage the process of transformation of food, along the food chain.

Mauro Piloni, who’s also president of SIFood, qualifies himself as an “atypical Italian”: “I stay in Italy because it is the best place to manage a global team and because it is a place deeply open to creativity: for sure, the right place to pick up signals about the future of the various areas of consumption. Working globally allowed me to pick up the best from every country. Over time I became a “blend of experience”, a true global citizen”.

Mauro Piloni has two sons, 16 and 12 years old, and he declares with a smile that the real CEO of his life, more than of his career, is his wife: “None of my results would maybe have been possible – and so enjoyable – without her”.