Mister Smart Innovation: we mind the gap between academic research and tech companies
Founded in 2009, Mister Smart Innovation is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) company located in the Research Area of Bologna. The corporate structure includes the CNR-National Research Council, the Universities of Ferrara and Parma and companies operating in various manufacturing sectors. As a non-profit company with 12 shareholders (3 academic research, 9 private companies), we enhance our public and academic partners’ knowledge to push the technological boundaries of industrial firms that rely on us. Mister is accredited by the Emilia-Romagna High Technology Network and is the ideal industrial research partner for companies interested in investing in R&D, supporting manufacturing, biotech, cosmetics, creative industries at regional, national and international levels through design and development of prototypes, analysis, measurements, data mining, machine intelligence and project management. We offer access to multi-KETs competences coupled with the use of advanced equipment and facilities worth 20 Mio euros, to identify solutions with a Technology Readiness Level capacity from 1 to 9.
Mister’s distinctive model lies in the public-private collaborative model between universities, private companies and research organizations. Mister facilitates tech transfer reducing the timing from research to industrial solutions with a dedicated staff, adapting to all kind of industrial needs, from SMEs to large enterprises. The services are open to members and to third parties.

Resources needed

Mister has a full-time staff of 15 people and has an annual turnover of about 1.5 million euros. About 65% of Mister’s turnover comes from collaborative projects co-funded by EU, national or regional sources, while the remaining 35% is made of tech transfer contracts with private companies.

Evidence of success

Mister’s mission, as a PPP structure, is turning knowledge into value for innovation-hungry companies.
Some numbers (2009-2019):
> 30 projects on strategic industrial research funded in the last 10 years
> 130 funded projects on technology transfer in the last 8 years
> 600 contacts (delegations, visitors, companies, students, stakeholder, partners…) in the last 2 years
> 40 Support for startups and young entrepreneurship

Difficulties encountered

Mister is a PPP company which can offer solutions to firms of all dimensions. Companies are reluctant in sustaining R&D costs. Public and Private entities generally approach technological issues in different ways. As a company with a private majority, we have to generate income to be sustainable.

Potential for learning or transfer

Mister represents for a policymaker a good example of an industrial research lab dedicated to technology transfer. Mister is a PPP organisation that works successfully between research institutes and companies, especially in the manufacturing and health sectors.
Thanks to a wide range of technological competences and access to facilities and equipment (including electronic characterization and nano-fabrication), Mister ranges from TRL 3 to 8 and so it is able to fill the gap between research and industry easing both technology transfer and industrial exploitation.
Our lesson learned:
Innovation has a significant direct impact on the Italian economy
Mister is research - centered innovation model based on focussed Value Propositions and Strategic Trajectories
The transferability potential lies in a public-private partnership model, in the openness of the platform and in the provision of a multi-KETs platform model
The model is engineered for multi-localization and is scalable.

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Main institution
MISTER Smart Innovation
Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Italia)
Start Date
January 2009
End Date


Filippo Saguatti Please login to contact the author.