A Network of Labs, Clusters and Platforms, facilitating industrial research, technology transfer and business innovation in S3 priority sectors
Since 2001, the Emilia-Romagna Region intervened at regulatory level, as well as activating support services, to enhance territorial vocations, strengthening the cooperation between the research world and the production system. It has created a network of industrial research labs and innovation centers called Regional High Technology Network with permanent equipment and structures.
The Network is developing towards a new model, where enterprises and research centres will gather around the most important industrial sectors identified by the Emilia-Romagna Smart Specialization Strategy - S3: Agri-food, Building and construction, Mechatronics and Motoristics, Health and Wellness industries, Cultural and Creative Industries.
The Network is coordinated by ASTER, the regional Innovation Agengy, and it is made up of 6 thematic platforms, 10 technopoles, 82 laboratories, 14 innovation centres, 7 clusters.
CLUST-ER Intelligent Specialisation Associations create for the first time a shared governance between businesses, research and innovation centres, Universities, training centres.
The Technopoles nodes hosts "AREA S3" spaces, desks created to bring young graduates closer to the labour market and to strengthen the regional production system in the thriving and emerging S3 sectors. They are spaces where entrepreneurs, startups, students and researchers can come together to create new innovation-related opportunities or develop new projects.
Resources from the Regional program for industrial research and technology transfer and ROP-ERDF 2007-2013 and 2014-2020.
Direct funding to 35 labs in 2009: 80M€ with 50% co-funding.
2 competitive calls in 2015 and 2018, funding 105 research projects with more than 82M€ of contribution.
Evidence of success
In 2008, 35 labs received direct funding. Their goal was to grow and become self-financing and autonomous. Later, 47 more labs joined the Network, without regional funding. However, being accredited as part of the Network allows labs to apply for the regional calls for proposals for research that are dedicated to the labs of the network. More than 3000 research contracts activated in 2009-2016 years between laboratories of the Network and enterprises, for a total amount of more than 195M€.
Barriers can be represented by stakeholders “resistance “ to be involved, in particular it has been quite difficult to involve companies and industries. From this point of view, the Clust-ERs represented an evolution of the network, useful to fix the problem of companies involvement.
Potential for learning or transfer
The High Technology Network links researchers and enterprises to gain new solutions and develop innovation. The Network impacts in a large number of companies that are now used to have productive relationships with universities and university labs. On the other side, there are now many university based researchers and university labs which have high level capabilities for structured collaborations with companies. The network report periodically to the regional public authorities, to let they know about progresses and if there are any difficulties to be deal with and barriers to overcame. In this way, public authorities have a closer interaction and better knowledge of needs and challenges, and they can better tailor policies and actions.