An Emilia-Romagna measure to build stronger links between research laboratories and regional companies, enhancing growth and competitiveness in key sectors.
Innovation and new technologies in agrifood need demonstrators and a joint effort between research, companies and users to scale up from labs to fields and then to market. Emilia-Romagna Region in 2015 launched a new supporting scheme to foster strategic industrial research projects targeted at priority areas of the Smart Specialization Strategy, including agri-food. Such scheme was intended to stimulate the evolution of regional cluster for innovation and competitiveness, based on a network of industrial research laboratories and technology transfer centers operating in strict connection with the business sector.
The funded strategic projects were addressed to the realization of new technological achievements relevant for key regional value chains, developing and testing technologies whose feasibility (proof of concept) has been already demonstrated. Projects had to focus on the technology validation in a laboratory environment and its demonstration in the industrial environment. They had to start from a TRL4 already acquired and plan to reach at least TRL6 at the end of the project.
Projects had to be implemented by consortia leaded by industrial research labs, part of the regional High Technology Network and had to ensure the effective participation of enterprises, involving at least two companies with headquarters in Emilia–Romagna. Actual industrial fallout of the results generated by projects will take advantage by a dedicated dissemination and exploitation plan.
Projects were supported by ERDF-ROP of Emilia-Romagna Region, within 2 call for proposals lunched in the programming period 2014-2020. A budget of 20 million Euros was dedicated to the agrifood sector providing financial contribution to 23 projects.
Evidence of success
2 calls for proposals (I.2015; II. 2018)
23 strategic R&D projects supported (6 fostering digitization and traceability in agrifood)
104 companies involved
96 research groups involved
327 new jobs created
The realisation of the compulsory dissemination tasks of the strategic project has shown to be often one of the weak point in the project implementation. Monitoring and follow up of project results is important to improve the exploitation of the projects outcomes and spillover effects.
Potential for learning or transfer
Industrial research policy is an enabling factor to enhance and foster innovation in the agrifood value chains. Actually the joint contribution from different highly specialized research groups operating in synergy can multiply the final technology achievements. On the other hand to unlock the business potential of research results is essential to have companies and users on board since the very beginning. From this point of view there is a needs to enhance the TRL of the output to facilitate the technology transfer process and the go-to market strategy of new solutions. The scheme adopted by the Emilia- Romagna Region to support complex strategic projects has proven to be a good example to go in this direction. Moreover, in the agrifood context the involvement of farmers in the development phase aims to promote a user-centered approach to innovation that could facilitate the adoption of new technologies.
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