CRPA LAB is one of the laboratories located in the Reggio Emilia Romagna technopole; its aim is improvement of the local agro-industrial sector.
In Emilia Romagna expenditure in R&D is lower than the most innovative European regions. To overcome this gap the ER overall strategy is to boost innovation and knowledge transfer through the promotion of a high technology network. Therefore, through the action I.1.1 of the past ERDF OP, Emilia Romagna Region supported the creation of regional technopoles: a network of infrastructures located in 10 sites throughout the regional territory. Within the framework of the programme agreement signed between ER region, the local authorities, the university of Modena and Reggio and CRPA, the Municipality of Reggio Emilia was responsible for the realization of the Reggio Emilia Technopole, physically located in the renewed archeoindustrial site of the Reggiane factory and co-financed by the ER region (with the action I.1.1) and the Municipality.
CRPA LAB is one of the laboratories located in this technopole, established in 2013 with support of the ER region. The agreement foresaw the improvement of the laboratory equipment, financing the costs of new items, and a 3 years research programme on the following areas, strictly related to the needs of the local agro-industrial sector: innovation in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese production process; hygiene quality and safety of food production (mainly meat and milk); sensorial analysis, especially focused on PDO and PGI products; analysis and valorization of agro-industrial by-products; biomasses and agro-energy.
A cooperative environment is necessary. Regional authorities need to find the right balance between a top-down and a bottom-up approach. Creating a governance model able to stimulate and embed the feedbacks of the several actors is crucial to assess and adjust the development of the network.
Evidence of success
Acquisition of new lab equipment for a total amount of € 392,000; development of research activities related to PDO/PGI animal products, with particular focus on the assessment of compatibility between innovations in the production system processes and the traditional quality of these food products; development of research activities related to the reuse of by-products and waste of the agri-food industries, and their potential as biomass for energy production; hiring of 3 young researchers.
Management issues on both sides: managing authority and beneficiaries. Infrastructure work is often subject to delays, and this risk should be considered in the project plan. Future users of the infrastructure should be involved during the project design, setting up participatory planning.
Potential for learning or transfer
Key elements to guarantee transferability of this GP are pre-existence of a favourable environment and strong commitment of the local governance.
- Fund availability: in order to reach an effective impact on the regional system, public investment is needed;
- Private commitment: willingness of the companies to invest in research, orientation of research centres and labs to meet their demand;
- Cooperative attitude: even in a competitive environment, cooperative attitude between involved actors is a crucial element, as well as between the different actors, also within the same sector;
- Infrastructure: the effectiveness of the measure is based on three key interrelated aspects: material assets, research activities and networking. Regarding the material assets, the local municipality’s commitment, in term of financial contribution and urban planning, has been crucial to embed the research network in the territory, through the development of the infrastructures.