When we talk about Rome Technopole, we are referring to a regional innovation ecosystem, created to feed the research, training and innovation chain. Perhaps the best term to understand how it works is ‘enzyme’, which renders its role as facilitator of encounters and stimulator of reactions with immediacy. In fact, the aim of this project is to create synergies and virtuous mechanisms between the business world, public institutions and universities. The reaction we want to generate is a push in the region towards innovation, particularly in the three thematic directions of high priority for Lazio: the energy transition, the digital transition and the biopharma and health sectors.
After an initial start-up phase, the Rome Technopole has already entered its operational phase, with projects launched and researchers hired. In particular, to date, we count eight flagship projects that take up important challenges on strategic themes: green energy, urban regeneration, advanced diagnostic methodologies, but also artificial intelligence applied in the aerospace field, for example, another sector of excellence in our region. These are all sectors of excellence in our region in which to invest for further growth and development. With this in mind, a first important outcome indicator is the recruitment data. In this first year, 81 researchers and 86 PhD students, research fellows and technologists were recruited, with a total of 177 contracts launched or put out to tender.
Obviously, achieving these objectives has entailed a major logistical and managerial effort to pool heterogeneous resources and to consolidate Rome Technopole into a one-door model encompassing university education, higher education, research, technology transfer, and the promotion and development of innovation. It is a great challenge for everyone. Suffice it to say that the Rome Technopole Foundation, set up to implement the project, has already been formed with seven universities, four research organisations, the Lazio Region and the Municipality of Rome, other public bodies and 20 industrial groups and companies. Our work involves public and private universities, and all the main players in the so-called R&D sphere, and among them Sapienza is the project leader.
During this first year, the need emerged to identify the location where our project could grow and the choice fell on the SDO-Pietralata area, a strategic area also due to its proximity to transport infrastructure. The plan is to create a true citadel of innovation that will attract the project's various stakeholders and expand over the next few years, giving new impetus to the area in which it is located, with engineering-informatics laboratories, coworking facilities and new residences.
In fact, the Rome Technopole is actively helping to increase investment in research and development, both public and private, and to compete nationally and internationally on the technological frontier, focusing on the most advanced sectors. In addition, it is committed to promoting the inclusion policy and the social lift mission, which are inherent to the university education system in Lazio, by making it easier for young people and women to access new quality job opportunities and by perfectly grasping the integrated and horizontal approach of the NRRP, which aims at the empowerment of women, the enhancement of young people's skills, capabilities and employment prospects, and the rebalancing of the territory.
This project represents a virtuous model of the goals that can be achieved through teamwork. In order to make Lazio a ‘great European region of innovation’, it is necessary to create a system: this means enhancing activities related to higher education, for example by setting up transversal and transdisciplinary courses, building new opportunities for internships and strengthening the placement networks that already exist, developing ad hoc didactic courses and research doctorates that focus on topics of strategic interest; it also means enhancing our research and innovation, taking it outside the university perimeter to specific areas identified among those envisaged by the NRRP, accelerating the establishment of spin-offs and start-ups and incubators of ideas that can trigger virtuous processes of growth and development.
One of the goals we set ourselves was to build skills that would meet the needs of the local area: today, many companies have to turn to other areas of the country to find graduates to work in their companies. Instead, we want to valorise excellence in a single pole to support growth and innovation, to make our area more attractive to businesses, young people and investors, strengthening dialogue and synergy with companies in the regional and national production system and increasing the number of graduates in the sectors of greatest perspective and strategic interest.
*Rector of Sapienza University of Rome