The support of research and development is a key priority for South Tyrol’s province government. Substantial subsidies are available for businesses, including grants for basic research, industrial research, and for process and organisational innovation. Incentives are also given for cooperation with other companies and research institutions. A number of institutions supported by the Province of South Tyrol have had long associations with the areas of renewable energy, climate change, energy efficiency and sustainable mobility, agro-food technologies, ICT & Automation, health & wellness, alpine technologies.
The provincial law 2006 n. 14 was a first step in establishing a systematic R&I strategy in South Tyrol, creating the prerequisite for targeted multi-annual funding for scientific research, basic research and applied research. Since then the investments in research and development have increased steadily and the provincial Law 14/2006 is yet today the main instrument of the regional research & innovation policy.
In 2010, a total of 103.2 million euros were spent in South Tyrol for in-house research and development, the private sector carrying two thirds. The corporate sector has always been the most important source of funding for R&D. In 2011, total expenditure increased further to 118.3 million euro, of which 74.2 was invested in companies (63%). In 2011 the private sector employed 1,559 individuals in the area of R&D, which is an increase of + 6.4% in comparison to the previous year.
The Regional Innovation Scoreboard (2017) shows that the region is among the “moderate innovators”. Taking into consideration a broader range of indicators, South Tyrol stands out as a territory of good innovative level compared to the national context and neighboring regions, as shown by “Fair and Sustainable Wellness” (CNEL and ISTAT, 2014). South Tyrol is at the top of the economic rankings among the Italian regions and in the top 10’s European Regions. Moreover a certain number of big companies give strength and international relevance to the main industrial sector (see Tab. 1 below).
The regional research and innovation ecosystem includes the Free University of Bolzano - Bozen, Eurac research, Laimburg Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, Fraunhofer Italia Research, Institute of Innovative Technologies, Eco-research, Klimahaus Agency, the NOI Techpark and IDM Südtirol - Alto Adige.
The Free University of Bozen-Bolzano was founded in 1997. The university has five faculties, and a high percentage of lecturers and students come from abroad and they study, teach and do research in the fields of Economics, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences, Education and Design. Despite its recent foundation, the University in the past few years has already established itself as an important research institution, both in Italy and abroad.
Laimburg is the leading Research Centre for agriculture in South Tyrol. Labs are active in numerous research fields: fruit growing, viticulture, enology, plant protection, mountain agriculture, food technology, applied genomics and molecular biology, food chemistry.
Eurac Research was founded in 1992. The centre gradually expanded its activities into new areas, attracted scientists from all over the world and introduced new structures. Today, almost 300 scientists from over 30 countries work at Eurac. Eurac has four dedicated labs: Solar and Building Technologies Test Facilities, Biomedicine Lab, Ancient DNA Lab, Satellite Receiving Station on Mount Renon. During the years was part of more than 100 EU co-funded projects and let 44% of them.
The Institute of Innovative Technologies is a non-profit research institute with both private and public shareholders. Since mid-2006 the IIT has largely dedicated itself to the development of hydrogen technology. South Tyrol is the first region in Italy to open a hydrogen centre and is thus one of Europe’s most innovative regions in this regard.
Eco-Research is an analytical laboratory with a solid experience in environmental research. The team of chemists, biologists, laboratory technicians and engineers is specialized in the detection and determination of environmental pollutants.
Recently the NOI Techpark (NOI - Nature of Innovation) opened its doors. An investment of over 100 million Euros in infrastructure which is now a hub for all R&I stakeholders giving them a place to work together, to inspire each other and to help to increase the competitiveness of individual actors as well as the entire region. The NOI Techpark is a strategic milestone for the multiannual and annual R&I planning.