How R&D drives growth and  creates value

Global scenario


Marcelo Andrade, Head of R&D at Prysmian Group, told the international high-tech magazine Wired how the company  is working to develop the most advanced technologies, while also taking care of sustainability and enhancing people’s talent.

‍Marcelo Andrade Head of R&D at Prysmian Group
‍Marcelo Andrade Head of R&D at Prysmian Group

In the cable industry, innovation primarily means designing and manufacturing constantly better and more competitive products and systems. But innovation is also the work that Prysmian carries out daily as part of the efforts to improve other connected areas, such as logistics or accounts. But Marcelo believes there is still much to do both in the design and the materials used to manufacture cables. “Our commitment to innovation is high, as demonstrated by our significant R&D expenditure: some €83 million last year in 17 research centres across the world,” he stated.

Nowadays, Prysmian Group can boast technology leadership in the High Voltage Direct Current cable systems, a fact confirmed by the record recently announced of 600 kV, while in the submarine power connections it works to lay cables even at record depths. Andrade states that, “In the power transmission products and systems, we are working on reaching an increasingly higher voltage, and in these fields materials can make the difference: they have to be lightweight, but also exhibit the highest mechanical performance.” For Prysmian a cable is not just the medium to connect point A to point B: “We develop solutions,” points out Marcelo, “In terms of control and monitoring of cables as a system, moving towards the idea of a cable as an active product, such as the recent Pry-Cam Grids system, devoted to the online testing and monitoring of networks.”


Europacable, the voice of leading European cable producers, has signed a call together with 91 other European associations for Brussels to take action to ensure the EU remains a competitive industrial power. Europe is the cradle of the manufacturing industry and has been at the forefront of industrial revolutions and technological innovations. The industry directly employs over 34 million people across all Member States, in supply chains comprising hundreds of thousands of SMEs and larger suppliers. It also indirectly accounts for millions of additional jobs in related sectors.

Yet, as other countries around the world put their industries first, the time has come to raise the alarm about considerable challenges the European manufacturing industry is facing.

Together with 91 European manufacturing industries, representing a diverse range of sectors, Europacable calls on the European Commission to:

  • ‍reaffirm its commitment to reaching the target of 20% of GDP from industry, with an ambitious and realistic timeline;
  • ‍adopt an Action Plan to tackle the challenges that the industrial sectors are facing, in the framework of a Communication that would include concrete steps and milestones; and
  • ‍commit to implement this Action Plan in a timely manner and regularly report on progress.

At the beginning of his mandate, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker identified the reindustrialisation of Europe as one of his top priorities and confirmed the objective of increasing the share of industry in the European GDP to 20% by 2020. As we approach the preparation of the next Multiannual Financial Framework, it is vital for the European Commission to act and help the EU remain a competitive global industrial power playing in a fairer world market.

Projects that try to imagine the future of the cable and energy market.

Marcelo explains that Prysmian has adopted a long-term perspective, which includes exploring the nanotechnologies field with the aim of obtaining new materials with extremely high performance: “We are working with graphene, carbon nanotubes, nanofillers, to mention but a few: all these materials, just as a special spice in a gourmet recipe, give a sort of special taste, and allow us to distinguish ourselves from our competitors.”

Giants in action
Between 2000 and 2014, the share of manufacturing in total EU output fell from 18.8% to 15.3%, while 3.5 million manufacturing jobs were lost between 2008 and 2014. Meanwhile, countries around the world are putting industry at the very top of their agendas. The ‘Make in India’ strategy aims to ensure India is “the next manufacturing destination” and ‘Made in China 2025’ seeks to turn China into the “leading manufacturing power”. The recent US shift towards