The EU furniture manufacturing industry has been severely hit by recent crisis and underwent significant changes to become more export-oriented and to focus on upgrading quality, design, and innovation. These changes include restructuring, technological advances, and business model innovations, but it needs continuing investment in skills, design, creativity, research, innovation, and new technologies.
Although EU furniture manufacturers have good reputation worldwide regarding design and creativity, only few companies are trendsetters while most of the companies are followers, especially SMEs.
Innovation has become a very important tool for firms competitiveness and firms long-term success will depend on their abilities to be innovative (Leavengood, 2009). Furthermore, in competitive markets adapting changes through innovation are necessary for firms to survive (Bullard and West, 2002).
Innovation requires competences of initiative and entrepreneurship, which refer to the ability to turn ideas into action. It involves creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects to achieve objectives. In this perspective, the World Economic Forum showed that the first 3 skills that became indispensable in the EU 2020 are: complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. In the highly competitive context, furniture companies need to be more creative and entrepreneurial, not only starting new businesses, but being able to commercialize new valuable products and services.