Create and develop a culture of partnership between innovative companies located on the Alpine borders.
Responding to a tender aimed at ‘driving innovation to ensure sustainable, high-quality public services in Europe’ the ‘cross border living lab’ was set up in March 2012 to:
• Develop a culture of partnership between innovative companies located on the Italian/French borders to improve their innovation capacity, productivity and international competitiveness.
• Encourage prototyping and testing of innovative products, services not yet existing on the market in the strategic sectors
The program aims to:
• Support the innovative enterprises in the phase of prototyping and industrialisation of new products and services.
• Reduce the risks and time to market for the introduction of innovative solutions in the market.
• Provide the regional and local public authorities with innovative technologies able to satisfy societal needs.
• Encourage and support experimentation, testing and validation of new products, services in real life conditions.
Eligibility Criteria: innovative SMEs with R&D activities in the target sectors specified in the tender; smart energies (alternative energy sources, energy efficiency) and intelligent mobility (car, transport and logistics sectors, territorial monitoring).
• STEP 1 Problem Solving/Dialogue for solution of problem 2 months
• STEP 2 R&D and Prototyping 6 months
• STEP 3 End user live testing in cross border ‘Living Lab’ conditions 6 months

Resources needed

Funding: €1.2M - EU Interreg Programme
Eligible SMEs were invited to tender for R & D projects with SMEs receiving an average of 80%, to a maximum of €137,500 of the investment needed.

Evidence of success

Empirical evidence to date suggests that it is an innovative methodology of financing R & D services and satisfying public needs.Long term aims i.e. sustainable benefits for the enterprises involved are expected to include improvements in their innovation capacity, productivity and international competitiveness.
Applications Submitted 9
Applications Accepted 5
Funding Granted to SMEs €750K
SME Investment in R&D and prototyping Approx. €1M

Difficulties encountered

Key learning points: with no former practice to draw on and the first Italian pre-commercial public procurement program of its type, the project uncovered totally new problems and issues including the management of Intellectual Property issues.

Potential for learning or transfer

The program can be considered as a business model that can be replicated in other regions and countries with similar ‘smart specialization’ strategy.
Main institution
Directorate Productive Activities Region Autonoma Valle d’Aosta
Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste, Italy (Italia)
Start Date
March 2012
End Date
December 2013


Andrea Enyingi-Kurucz Please login to contact the author.