Over the last forty years, Trentino's autonomy has allowed the province to plan and fund ever-increasing investment in the field of research & development, transforming the province’s economic system into a genuine, internationally-recognised “Research and Knowledge Hub”, for the significant results achieved.
With more than twenty public and private research institutes, a university at the top of the national rankings in the sector, and more than 3,500 researchers (the ratio between the number of inhabitants and the number of researchers is one of the highest in Italy), the province has become an important focal point for the most well-established international research networks – in areas as diverse as materials science, neuroscience, nanotechnology, genomics, and voice recognition algorithms.
In Trentino, the grape, apple, and strawberry genomes were sequenced for the first time; Microsoft Research has set up a joint research centre with the University of Trento; and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has its Italian node of the “EIT ICT Labs”.
Public investment in research and development totals 150 million Euros annually, representing 1.2 per cent of the total GDP. For every 1000 inhabitants, there are 5.1 people working in the field of R&D (as compared to the Italian average of 3.9 per 1000). In Trentino, almost 190 million Euros are invested annually in research and development activities in both the public and the private sectors (businesses, research institutes and non-profit institutions). There is a system of business incentives for investment dedicated to companies which is unparalleled in Italy and in Europe.
The Trentino research and innovation system is based around several hubs - the University of Trento (16,000 students, 180 post-doctoral researchers, 700 PhD students and 560 professors and researchers), the Bruno Kessler Foundation (400 researchers and associated research centres), the Edmund Mach Foundation (700 employees, about 1000 students and course attendees, 100 hectares of laboratories, glasshouses, cultivated fields and classrooms), Trento RISE (the core partner in the Italian node of the EIT ICT Labs network of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology).
The number of public and private activities which offer levels of excellence and concrete opportunities for technology transfer is also growing. Private research centres include COSBI (Microsoft Research University of Trento Centre), FIAT Research Centre, Trento Ducati Research Centre, Bonfiglioli Mechatronic Research, Create-Net (Centre for Research and Telecommunication Experiment for Networked communities) and Graphitech (Centre for Advanced Computer Graphics Technologies).
Thanks partly to increasingly innovative public sector demand, companies can come into contact with highly qualified human resources, take part in applied research projects (some even with international partners), and have access to relevant funding. All of this has led to numerous spin-offs and start-ups, centres of business excellence and company research centres.
Main fields of activity
The public sector is an active sponsor of many projects in strategic growth, such as ICT, green economy, environment, products and services for tourism, culture heritage, education, and smart territory. Various thematic territorial labs (health, tourism, transportation monitoring) are already active involving end-users and big industrial players.