Developing ‘technopoles’ as hubs of innovation
The Technopoles project comprises a network of ten research sites for technological transfer in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.
Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.
The research sites, which will be equipped with laboratories and incubators, are expected to become hubs of industrial innovation and launch pads for high-tech enterprises. They will also offer services at the management level and encourage networking among the different elements in the research system: enterprises, universities, research centres, training centres, etc.
A unique focus in each district
Spread across the Emilia-Romagna region and incorporating six universities and four research institutes with 34 industrial research laboratories and 11 innovation centres, the 10 technopoles will complete and reinforce the region’s already consolidated high-tech network.
Their activity will focus on sectors and areas of business linked to the districts, using the production chains most typical of the region. The centre in Bologna will focus on technologies for industrial automation, new materials, nanotechnologies, multimedia telecommunications and life sciences. Meanwhile, in Modena and Reggio Emilia, the technopoles will concentrate on ceramic technology, in Parma on industrial food technology and in Piacenza on technologies for machine tools and energy. In Ferrara the centre will focus on pharmaceuticals, environmental technologies and biotechnologies. Between Ravenna, Forlì and Rimini a strong nautical district will be developed and in Cesena the focus will be on ICT and technologies for the manufacturing industry.
Between these centres, the technopoles will employ 1 600 researchers, 560 of whom will be newly employed young researchers. In total, they will operate 132 research programmes and make 520 solutions available for companies.
Building regional, national and international connections
The technopole network is already encouraging inter-regional cooperation and forging connections to national and international research networks. An agreement has been signed between the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Piedmont calling for creation of an interregional system of research centres. Additionally, a number of prominent national institutions, such as the CNR and Enea, will be an integral part of some of the planned platforms. On an international level, agreements have been signed with the Fraunhofer Institut, which heads the industrial research network in Germany, and Adit, the French agency for innovation.
The CICLoPE laboratory, which will be located in two underground tunnels in Predappio, is just one example of the good initiatives emerging from the technopoles. CICLoPE, of the technopole in Forlì-Cesena, will provide an environment to develop new experimental facilities for the study of high Reynolds number turbulence. The laboratory will be located in two tunnels built during World War II to shelter a Caproni production plant. This closed and underground environment is ideal for such experiments as it protects against external vibrations, noise and electromagnetic perturbations.