The Directorate for Regional System Competitiveness of Piedmont Region and the Politecnico di Torino (project coordinator) implemented the activities of the RETRACE project in the Piedmont Region (Italy). This policy learning process has also involved fifteen local stakeholders. The results achieved were significant in several respects, from the knowledge and skills acquired, to the involvement of stakeholders, to the actual improvements in Circular Economy.
Knowledge and skills developed during the project
The policy learning process behind the project allowed the partners to deepen their understanding of the issues related to Circular Economy, both in theory and in its application through the visit of numerous Good Practices. The organization of the 1st Interregional Dissemination Event and the coordination of the three RETRACE publications have been inspiring opportunities to deepen the theoretical knowledge on the subject and share the exchange of experiences and the policy design process. Moreover, the Italian partners found two tools particularly useful and interesting: first, the Peer Review Meetings, taking place at the end of each Field Visit to select the best Good Practices, proved to be an enriching and stimulating moment of discussions and learning for partners. Second, the matrix (a format developed to support the activity of linking the Policy Gaps identified in each region to the Good Practices that could help to solve them) was a useful tool to review the material collected along the first 3 semesters and start drafting the Regional Action Plan. The matrix was also a tangible instrument that enabled partners to discuss with stakeholders the preliminary drafts of the Regional Action Plan.
Involvement of local stakeholders
The constitution of an official Stakeholder Group allowed the participation of major regional players from the beginning. For the Piedmont region, business incubators, innovation clusters, the chamber of commerce, but also companies, cooperatives and local museums were involved. Stakeholders actively participated in the meetings, as well as in the Field Visits made in the partners’ regions; they showed great interest in taking part in the project activities and in contributing to the creation of the Regional Action Plan. One of the encouraging signs of stakeholders’ involvement is the proposal to create a report of recommendations for the Piedmont Region concerning how the path towards the Circular Economy could be continued. This output, not foreseen by the project, sets the conditions to continue the process started with RETRACE, thus carrying out the actions that have not yet been implemented in the project.
Improvements in regional Circular Economy
The main improvements that come with the Regional Action Plan concern the introduction of calls for research projects for local companies which, for the first time, took into account the Circular Economy and the transversal connections between the different sectors of the Piedmont S3. In particular, the “Bioeconomy Platform” Call selected 6 (out of 9) projects related to Circular Economy, involving globally 87 companies and 25 Research Organizations. Overall, the response of the companies has been positive: in the short term, several projects will be implemented, proposing circular innovations on the territory. At an educational level, the project has led to the creation of a course and a workshop at the Politecnico di Torino, which introduced the topics of the Circular Economy in the training of young designers, with desirable effects in the medium and long term.