Increasing international competitivness though a multi-level project based on territorial distinctive competences, research, innovation, technology transfer
To emerge and compete at the international level, Reggio Emilia chose to innovate its economic, social and cultural model by focusing on the attraction of knowledge, research and innovation and the exchange of talents, experiences and relationships.
The Northern Area of the city has been identified as the territorial dimension where to set up and develop a strategy aimed at transforming it into a place of research and knowledge production to attract enterprises, researchers and investment. This vision, by following logics and models of smart specialization strategy, focuses on research and innovation of specific territorial skills (education, mechatronics, agro-food, sustainable energy), which are driving forces for the innovation of other productive sectors and the efficient reconversion of existing industrial facilities.
For this reason, this area has become the core of the project for the construction of the Innovation Park, a logistics, technologic and services-related platform designed to support, enhance, and interconnect local production with two research centres representing the backbone of distinctive competencies. The Park implements a systemic approach to industrial research and technology transfer composed of several dimensions:
1) Development of specific skills;
2) Construction of infrastructures for research and innovation;
3) Privileged accessibility;
4) high-value-added services for enterprises;
5) Attraction and concentration of fundings
Innovation Park project attracted public/private resources for approximately €50 million:
- €28 million funded by the state
- €2 million funded through Single Planning Document (DUP) of Emilia-Romagna region;
- €20 million of private funds (companies that have invested in the project)
Evidence of success
€50 million of public and private resources attracted; 20 actors signed agreements for the installation in the Park, 5 advanced-research centres, more than 100 people among professors, researchers and PhD students at the labs, 500/600 people involved (teachers, professors, educators, individuals, artists, architects etc.) in educational sector, 25 groups of vocational study focused on some target countries.
Potential for learning or transfer
Despite the specific territorial characteristics related to Reggio Emilia's socio-economic context, the project has the potential to become a model for the development of other local realities, as it addresses issues and challenges common to many regions in Europe:
- developing projects at the local level to promote distinctive capabilities by following the Smart Specialization Strategy (S3)
- redeveloping disused industrial areas by providing them with a new role for (and designing them according to) local economic development needs
- sharing a strategic vision between the main public and private stakeholders of the city in order to gather human resources, investments and projects (where the city becomes "entrepreneur" contributing to the recovery of its territory).