TYPOLOGY OF FACTORS AND POLICIES
SUPPORTING INNOVATION AND CREATING
START-UPS IN THE AREA OF MILAN
1 Strategic framework
1.1 The RITTS Project and the Strategic Programme for Innovation Support
1.2 The Innovation Forum
1.3 Framework Agreement for the Technological Innovation Programme of
2 Tools and measures to support companies during the start-up
2.1 Business Innovation Centres and public incubators
2.2 Private incubators
2.3 Venture Capital experience
2.4 Provincial tender to support SME’s innovation, quality and auditing in the
province of Milan
2.5 Tender for the start-up of female managed companies and for the
development of existing ones, promoted by the Province of Milan
2.6 The support provided by Milan Town Council to start-ups and to
entrepreneurial activities in abandoned urban areas.
2.7. The Committee “Punto Nuova Impresa”
2.8. Regional Laws to support innovation
3 Other initiatives promoted by the Province of Milan to foster
3.1 The PANEL Project
3.2 The MATREND project
3.3 The DELCOSI Project – Excellence Internships
3.4. The CeTra Project
3.5 The Bicocca Project for companies
3.6 The European networks: PAXIS, IRE, Metropolis, RINNO
1 Strategic framework
1.1 The RITTS Project and the Strategic Programme for Innovation Support
In the last few years, the Province of Milan has promoted and has participated in numerous
initiatives and programmes aimed at strengthening the offer of activities and technological services
targeted at Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).
In order to achieve this objective, the Province of Milan, in co-operation with the European Union,
promoted the creation of a strategic reference framework for innovation policies and technological
transfer that focused mainly on SME. The RITTS Project (Regional Innovation and Technology
Transfer Strategies and Infrastructures), which was co-financed by DG Enterprise and the European
Commission, allowed the fulfilment of this goal.
The wide range of services promoted by the Province of Milan aims at fostering innovation through
the identification of key competencies and through the offer of ad hoc tools to satisfy the requirements
Therefore, the comprehensive plan of action achieves two goals: bridges the gap between the offer
of services reported by SMEs; ascribes a better defined territorial dimension for innovation
strategies and the development of a deeply rooted “networking culture” among the actors within
the Milan area.
The contents of the Project
RITTS Projects belong to a clearly defined UE strategy that allows each region to design a plan of
action and benefit from UE and local technological innovation initiatives.
Moreover, RITTS Projects allow local bodies to set up a reference framework for innovation
policies and technological transfer. Therefore, local and regional innovation represents the basis for
The Project is made up of two parts. The first section monitors SMEs technological needs and the
offer of technological transfer services within the area of Milan (number of units). In the second part, a
“pilot” plan of action is drawn-up with pre-selected entities. This section represents the first attempt of
the implementation of the guidelines foreseen by the plan.
The RITTS Project identifies three priority areas. These areas were identified analysing the
a) requirements of SMEs in terms of innovation support and services
b) territorial offer and support to innovation,
c) strategies proposed by the Province of Milan.
The three priority areas are as follows:
Support, guide and foster innovation among SMEs
Strengthen technological transfer initiatives
Foster private and public entity co-ordination to support SME innovation.
Working groups for the audit and the enforcement of new actions within the Province of Milan
were set up by a team of experts involved in the Project.
The following entities took part in the working groups:
Entrepreneurial associations: APA, Unione artigiani della Provincia di Milano, CNA, API,
Associazione Industriali di Monza e Brianza, Associazione Legnanese dell’Industria, Assoconsult,
Unione del Commercio, dei Servizi e del Turismo.
Universities and Scientific research centres: Politecnico di Milano, C.N.R. Area di Milano,
Istituto Scientifico Breda, Università di Milano, Innovation Relay Centre.
BIC and Service Centres: Assotec, CESETEC; CEFRIEL; FAST, CENTROCOT, CATAS, BIC
La Fucina, BIC Legnano, Polo Scientifico Tecnologico di Busto Arsizio, Camera di Commercio di
Banks: Cariplo (Intesa), Unicredito.
The Strategic Programme - 1999-2001
The “Strategic Program for innovation support and development within the province of
Milan 1991-2001” is the result of the RITTS program enforcement. On the basis of this programme,
major actions were implemented and co-ordinated.
There are several important initiatives promoted under the RITTS Project. They include the
The start-up of the MATREND programme aimed at developing new technological check-up
methods. The programme was promoted by the BIC “La Fucina” in Sesto S. Giovanni in co-
operation with Consorzio Milano Ricerche (for additional information see the following
The identification of new methodologies for technological transfer and for professional training
through the experience of “Tirocini di Eccellenza” (“Excellence Internships”) in collaboration
with the DELCOSI project. The project was developed with the support of Politecnico di Milano
(for additional information see the following paragraphs).
The setting-up of AGINTEC, Agency for Entrepreneurial Development and Technological
Transfer within the Agrate-Arcore-Vimercate area (for additional information see the following
The start-up of FONDO MILANO INNOVAZIONE, ASNM closed-end fund of venture
capital for the promotion of innovative financial tools for territorial development (for additional
information see the following paragraphs).
The creation of the ITALIAN BUSINESS ANGELS NETWORK at the BIC La Fucina in Sesto
San Giovanni (for additional information see the following paragraphs).
Moreover, within the scope of the RITTS programme, support actions addressed to public
incubators and territorial development agencies have been promoted by the Province of Milan.
The RITTS programme played a fundamental role in the creation of relational networks among
economic, social and institutional entities, as well as among those involved in training and research.
Therefore, the creation of the “Innovation Forum” serves as a discussion, strategic and confrontation
point among numerous public and private entities.
1.2. The Innovation Forum
The Innovation Forum was promoted by the Province of Milan on the basis of the RITTS
programme. Thanks to this initiative, the analysis of present policies and actions to foster
competitiveness in Milan was made possible among various entities supporting innovation within the
This experience confirmed the following: the exchange of information and the promotion of a
“network culture” along with the development of consensus among different entities, represents the
building block for uniform action within the metropolitan area.
The need for stable co-ordination action led to the creation of the Innovation Forum.
The Forum accomplishes the following:
Promotion of discussion about technological scenarios and local policies in the field of
Promotion of strategic policies and co-operation in the decision making process of innovation-
Co-ordination of the development and the implementation of action plans (for instance
common plans, participation to EU tenders, etc.)
Monitoring and evaluation of actions and policies enforced within the province of Milan in the
field of innovation.
Exchange of information among various operators.
Promotion of public awareness about the companies and the operators involved (meeting,
“The provincial tender for the support of innovation, quality and certification processes within
SMEs in the Milan area” is among the latest activities sponsored by the Innovation Forum. There are
also a large number of other seminars to promote and present some of the experiences carried out in
the area of Milan.
At present, the Innovation Forum is promoting the following: a new provincial tender to
finance the innovative activities of Milan SMEs; the creation of a new Strategic Program 2002-2004
for Innovation Support and Development within the Province of Milan.
Structure and Activities of the Innovation Forum
The presidency of the Forum is held by the Councillor for Labour and Economic Activities of the
Province of Milan.
Besides involving representatives of the Province of Milan and the Lombardy Region Authorities,
the Innovation Forum involves the representatives of the main institutions/organisations (in the
sphere of finance, universities and of the associative system) whose role and weight in the decision
making process for innovation-related issues is well known. Among the other members of the
Innovation Forum, there are the following: C.N.R., Associazione Legnanese dell’Industria, Agintec,
APA, API, ASNM, Acceleratore di Impresa Bovisa, Assoconsult, Assotec, Bic La Fucina, Bic
Euroimpresa, CNA, CESTEC, Compagnia delle Opere, Consorzio Milano Ricerche, Euroimpresa,
FAST, Fondazione Cariplo, Incubatore Bottega di Leonardo, Istituto Scientifico Breda, Politecnico di
Milano, Politecnico Innovazione, Unione del Commercio e dei Servizi di Milano, Università degli
Studi di Milano, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca.
The secretariat of the Forum is in charge of the following:
The organisation and management of meetings
The dissemination of information about activities promoted by forum members
The management of working groups
The organisation of seminars and meetings to increase public awareness
1.3. Framework Agreement for the Technological Innovation Programme of Lombardy
The Framework Agreement for the Technological Innovation Programme was signed by Lombardy
Region Authorities and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Craftsmanship on March 22nd 2001.
The decision to support technological research innovation represents the “horizontal” objective
(objective 3.8.1 of the Regional Development Program) of the development policy undertaken by
Lombardy Region Authorities. Moreover, it allows regional authorities to face the marginalization
process that the international competitive system is enacting towards static or “outdated” economic
The need for local actions to support technological research and innovation was taken into
account after analysing the following:
The growing strategic importance of highly technological sectors for economic growth
The pressing need, which is very often unexpressed, for innovation and technological transfer
voiced by companies and especially SMEs
The opportunity to clearly define the strategic objectives of technological development on a
national and regional level
The European Commission request to strengthen the role of regions in the research sector all over
The troublesome implementation of initiatives in the field of research and technological transfer
The difficulties affecting public and private fund raisings to foster research and technological
innovation. This situation leads to uncertain investments within an entrepreneurial framework
presenting local atomisation and undercapitalisation phenomena.
The peculiar and strategic profile of the industrial system in Lombardy in the field of research and
technological innovation compared to national and European scenarios.
Objectives of the Agreement
The Framework Agreement aims at creating a series of integrated programmes and
interventions to support and to foster technological growth and competitiveness in Lombardy.
This goal can be achieved through the support and the implementation of the following: technological
transfer processes and the migration towards new industrial sectors; improvement of the co-
operation among institutional, social and entrepreneurial actors.
These objectives can be met through the development of the following three major areas of
1. Programming and co-ordination in order to enhance regional internal structures and to provide
the necessary tools to address research and technological innovation policies.
2. Information to improve dissemination of ideas and knowledge.
3. Operative plan of action through the start-up of programmes and projects that comply with
regional, national and UE strategic goals.
The above-mentioned initiatives are detailed in the intervention policies described below.
Area 1. Programming and co-ordination
1.1 Development of regional co-ordination system: regional directorate for innovation
1.2 Creation of a regional network of Excellence Centres
1.3 Definition of a monitoring system for the actions to be carried out
1.4 Promotion of the Regional Project to foster innovation and technological transfer in the territory:
the RITTS model
1.5 Identification of key technologies in the industrial sector of Lombardy.
Area 2. Information
2.1 List of technological skills at a regional level
2.2 Development of an information system for regional initiatives and opportunities
2.3 Development of a network of information points at a local level
2.4 Development of information systems to ensure consistency with State-run programmes
Area 3. Operative Plan of Action
3.1 Support e-commerce and new economy
3.2 Development of innovative financial tools to support research and innovation
3.2.1 The Risk Capital: creation of a Regional Common closed-end Fund
3.2.2 Innovation Revolving Fund
3.2.3 Creation of Excellence Centres for technological transfer: Lombardy high tech network
3.4 Incentives and development of entrepreneurship
3.4.1 Promotion of innovation activities through pre-competitive development actions
3.4.2 Tax allowances to foster innovation within the industrial sector
3.4.3 Support to start-ups developing and providing innovative services
Areas 1 and 2 focus on the improvement of co-ordination among individuals, institutions and
public bodies that are working in the field of technological innovation throughout Lombardy. In order
to meet this goal, the UE is focused on building consensus and monitoring initiatives promoted by the
region together with the creation of a technological information system within the region. The
Lombardy Regional Authorities or its representatives will be in charge of the co-ordination and control
initiatives implementation, which will require an initial three-year investment of about € 2.5 million.
Area 3 provides support to companies for innovation activities through regional and national
The long-term programme provides for financial resources that are made up of State and Regional
funds that comply with the following laws: L.46/82, L.140/97 and L.R.31/96, LR.35/96 respectively.
In the following table a synthesis of available resources is shwon.
FINANCIAL RESOURCES (mln for Area 3)
STATUTORY 2001 2002 2003 Total
STATE L. 46/82 40,000 40,000 40,000 120,000
Total for the State 40,000 40,000 40,000 120,000
L.R. 35/96 18,523 8,523 8,123 35,169
REGION * L.R. 31/96 16,811 8,300 25,111
L.R. 33/91-FESR 2,000 25,000 25,000 52,000
Total for the
37,334 41,823 33,123 112,280
Funding as to
paragraph 19, sub-
L. 140/97** 60,000 60,000 60,000 180,000
section 6 of law n.
Total funding 60,000 60,000 60,000 180,000
Total Balance 137,334 141,823 133,123 412,280
There are several measures presently underway that provide financial support to business
innovation projects, such as:
Action 3.4.1: Promotion of innovation activities thorough the support of pre-competitive
development programmes (L.46/82 sub-section.14)
This measure is responsible for financing all corporate activities focused on the acquisition of
knowledge for the creation of new products, production processes, services or for the improvement of
existing ones. Moreover, this initiative provides support for the implementation of industrial research
results through the design and development of pilot projects to obtain mock-ups and prototypes.
This initiative sees the allocation of an annual investment that amounts to about 20 million €. This
amount is accessible by companies through an exclusive territorial tender for Lombardy that will be
launched during the year 2002.
Action 3.4.2: Tax allowances to support innovation in the industrial sector (L.140/97)
This measure supports the initiatives promoted by small, medium and big-sized companies through a
series of tax allowances provided by L.140/97.
Action 3.4.3: Support to start-ups operating in the field of design and production of innovative
services (L.R. 35/96 sub-section 6)
The beneficiaries of this measure are SMEs operating in the field of design and technological
production of innovative products/services and that have been established within the previous 12
months from the application date. The funds are made up of regional resources provided by R.L.35/96.
2 Tools and measures to support companies during the start-up phase
2.1. Business Innovation Centres and public incubators
Business Innovation Centres (for further reference www.bic-italia.net) foster the creation of new
enterprises and the innovative development of existing SMEs. The BIC, devised by the European
Commission, is a tool to attract local resources and strengths that through a variety of actions
represent the interests of companies and public bodies in the development of a region or of a local
area. BICs partners include the following: Regional and Provincial Authorities, Chambers of
Commerce, banks, individuals and industry/trade associations.
The main objective of Business Innovation Centres is to create new companies and support
existing ones. The major tools to reach this goal are the dissemination of services to companies and the
creation of incubators where existing companies or start-ups can localise their activity.
The BIC is not only a supplier of traditional consulting services. It is also a reference point for
best practice, skills and resources (regional, national and UE resources) that promote development
projects for the local industrial sector rather than for individual companies.
The services offered by the BICs to public bodies, potential entrepreneurs and companies include
Support during the start-up phase and incubation
Assistance for localisation decisions
International partnerships and networking policies
Support for corporate planning and development
Support during the definition of management strategy
The Business Innovation Centres sponsored by the Province of Milan stemmed from two partially
similar experiences: Società Euroimpresa di Legnano and Agenzia di Sviluppo Nord Milano. These
two companies were founded with the aim of revamping the industrial potentials of areas affected by
Nevertheless, these two experiences have a different organisational structure. The Bic La Fucina
in Sesto S.Giovanni is an independent company (funded by ASNM and by other partners) that
provides corporate services and support for the start-ups of the OMC incubator (Officina Multimediale
Concordia). The OMC incubator is owned and managed directly by ASNM.
The Bic Alto Milanese is a “branch” of Euroimpresa (owner of the start-up incubator). Therefore,
it is not a juridically independent company.
Public incubators are promoted by universities to favour the spin-off processes: the creation of
innovative companies from University research results and by young researchers.
University incubators are characterised by the following factors:
Scientific research projects
Physical representation inside the university
Focus on university subjects
Incubation of ideas proposed by graduates or university researchers
Networking with industries sponsoring university research activities
In the area of Milan, the Acceleratore di Impresa Bovisa is an example of a public incubator.
Represented by the Politecnico di Milano, it is located in the Milan Bovisa head office of the
2.2 Private incubators
Profit-oriented incubators are managed by private operators. These incubators assist entrepreneurs
with the development of the corporate project and give financial support up to their listing on the
Stock Exchange or to the sale of the company to third parties. Generally, the incubator plays the initial
role of the venture capitalist by becoming a company shareholder.
Bottega di Leonardo is the first and oldest example of private incubator within the area of Milan.
This incubator represents an important co-operation forum for the market and for the companies.
Furthermore, it deals with multimedia, biotechnology, industrial and consumer automation, and highly
technological services for companies. The incubator was founded in the 1980’s by Pirelli Spa in co-
operation with Lombardy Regional Authorities. It is a fully private structure.
Other private incubators operating in the field of biotechnologies are Biopolo Scrl and Parco
Scientifico San Raffaele.
Biopolo is a fully private company promoted by pharmaceutical corporations. It operates in co-
operation (through a series of agreements) with biotechnological research centres of the Università di
Biopolo can be found at the Universita’ di Milano Bicocca.
Parco Scientifico San Raffaele is a complex private structure promoted by a non-profit foundation
that is made up by the S. Raffaele Hospital, the University Vita-Salute S. Raffaele and other scientific
research centres. Inside this incubator, Science Park Raf Spa fosters networking activities within the
industrial sector and supports incubation and the spin-off of new companies.
During the 90’s, within the area of Milan, many private incubators were created in the field of
Information and Communication Technologies. Approximately 70% of all private incubators are
located within the area of Milan.
These initiatives were launched thanks to the close co-operation with venture capitalists located
within the area.
Whereas incubators perform their activity in the pre-financing periods that consists of the
development of the business plan up to the first five or six months of activity, venture capitalists
support all the initiatives requiring considerable long-term investments.
Under the financial point of view, an incubator provides seed capital only when the business is
consolidated and requires a second round of financing from a venture capitalist. This process
contributed to the increase of complementariness between incubators and risk capital investors. Today,
venture capitalists often accept to finance a “concept” previously sponsored by incubators.
The experience accrued within the area of Milan, and rendered by this report, demonstrate how
often in different occasions venture capital companies decided to promote direct incubator-oriented
For further information, refer to the following pages on venture capital and the interviews
contained in the third section. A list of private incubators within the area of Milan is located below
ALL INCLUSIVE http://www.all-inclusive.it/default_nf.html
APAX PARTNERS http://www.apax.com
BIZ 2000 http://www.biz2000.it
BIZMATICA spA http://www.bizmatica.com
BOTTEGA DI LEONARDO http://www.bottegaleonardo.it
INCUBE Srl http://www.in3it.com
KIWI 1 http://www.pino.it
PINO PARTECIPAZIONI PINO
SAN RAFFAELE BIOMEDICAL
SPEED @ EGG http://www.speedegg.com
VIRTUAL NURSE http://www.virtualnurse.it
WE CUBE http://www.we-cube.com
2.3. Venture Capital experience
At the beginning of the 80’s, the term venture capital identified middle-long term share capital
contributions or stock options subscriptions on the part of specialised operators in favour of non-listed
companies having a high development potential in terms of products and services, new technologies
and market ideas. Under such definition, the minority equity was temporary and set aside to develop
the company through the joint inflow of know how in order to increase its value and to reach a
considerable capital gain in case of divestment.
The characteristics of institutional investments in risk capital changed over time in order to adapt
and target entrepreneurial systems to the level of market development. Actually, the common feature
is made up of three goals: acquisition of corporate equities in the middle-long term, business
development and the increase in stock value.
In Europe, despite the attempt to comply with standard American terminology, it is common to
distinguish between private equity (activities carried out after the initial phase of the business start-up)
and venture capital (start-up phase financial support).
Risk capital investments are crucial for many reasons. First of all, a company has the possibility to
benefit from financial support in order to increase its value and to find the necessary capital to support
start-up activities, development plans, new strategies, corporate acquisitions, transition periods and
other key processes for its life cycle. Such capital can be used by the company to develop new
products and new technologies in order to increase working capital, finance acquisitions and/or
strengthen the financial structure of the company.
Private equity capital can be used to solve property-related issues or to face transition periods.
Moreover, it is the best tool for buy out/buy in operations carried out by skilled managers. In addition,
the know-how invested provides support to external growth thanks to contacts, investments, co-
operation programmes that foster communication between entrepreneurs working in the same fields or
in other sectors.
Capital risk market segmentation classifies investments according to the life cycle stage of the
target company. Therefore, seed and start up financing identify the so-called early stage interventions,
whereas expansion financing or development capital refer to second-stage actions aimed at supporting
growth and implementing development programmes together with existing companies. The
replacement capital outlines a set of interventions that, without increasing the company share capital,
replace part of the shareholding.
Venture capital in Milan
The Italian venture capital and private equity recorded an unprecedented growth during 2000-2001.
The investments volume was increased by 67%. According to the AIFI-PWC (Italian Private Equity
and Venture Capital Association-PriceWatehouseCoopers) survey, around 3.000 million € were
invested in 646 programmes grouping 490 different companies during the year 2000. In particular,
60% of venture capital investments concerned start-ups. If compared to other Italian regions,
Lombardy ranks first in regards to the volume of investments in Italian companies. Lombardy has 157
companies. Considering the investment in Italian companies, Lombardy ranks first with 157
companies receiving venture capital and private equity investments (37.4%).
The province of Milan is the key area for the development of venture capital initiatives in
Lombardy. In fact, 87% of the investments promoted within Lombardy were carried out in the area of
Milan (137 companies receiving investments) for a total volume of 882.1 mln €.
These investments are broken down in the following:
seed/start up: 54.7% of the companies, accounting for 26.8% of the capital invested for a total
amount of 237.1 mln €
expansion: 32.8 % of the companies, accounting for 40.1% of the capital invested for a total
amount of 353.7 mln €
replacement: 4.3% of the companies, accounting for 3.6% of the capital invested for a total
amount of 31.6 million €
buy out: 8% of the companies, accounting for 29.4% of the capital invested for a total amount of
259.2 mln €
As to the target sectors, 137 investments can be subdivided as follows:
IT: 19.7 %
Other sectors: 40.9%
The most significant experiences are outlined by the venture capitalist interviews contained in the
Although new and interesting initiatives are being currently fostered by public investors, the
previously mentioned initiatives were promoted by private investors.
In particular, the initiatives are promoted by Lombardy Regional Authorities and the Development
Agency Nord Milano.
In the first case, regional authorities through the local finance institution – Finlombarda – are
developing a Fund of Funds whose mission is the financial participation in existing or new venture
capital funds within the region.
The second initiative calls for the creation of a Closed-end Innovation Fund for Milan that
supports the start-up of new innovative companies within the area of Milan. Under the Italian statutory
provisions, ASNM, in co-operation with Unicredito and Livolsi&Partner, promoted the creation of a
Savings Management Trust that will be in charge of gathering these savings.
A list of other venture capital funds within the province of Milan is located below:
Name Category www
Private equity http://www.adventinternational.com
ALICE VENTURES http://www.aliceventures.it
ALTO PARTNERS Private Equity http://www.altopartners.it
ANTFACTORY Venture Capital http://www.antfactory.com
Venture Capital company
APAX PARTNERS http://www.apax.com
ARCA MERCHANT Private Equity http://www.arcasim.it
Private equity partnership http://www.argos-soditic.com
BC PARTNERS Private equity partnership http://www.bcpartners.com
BRIDGEPOINT Private equity company http://www.bridgepoint-capital.com
Eprivate equity http://www.cvceurope.com
Venture Capital company http://www.eontechventures.com
GE EQUITY CAPITAL
Private Equity http://www.geequity.com
BUSINESS ANGELS Private initiative http://www.iban.it
Venture Capital company
INCUBE Srl http://www.in3it.com
INVESTAR SGR SpA http://www.investar.it
ITALIAN VENTURE Venture Capital private
CAPITAL EXPO company
KIWI 1 http://www.pino.it
LIVOLSI & Venture Capital private
VENTURE Private Equity Pool http://mvigroup.insite.se/
PRIVATE EQUITY Venture capital investment
SPEEDVENTURES Venture Capital http://www.speedventures.com
UBS CAPITAL Private Equity http://www.ubscapital.com
Private Equity Firm www.vestarcapital.com
VIRTUAL NURSE http://www.virtualnurse.it
WEB EQUITY Equity company http://www.web-equity.net
WE CUBE http://www.we-cube.com
Private Venture Capital
21 INVEST http://www.21investimenti.it
Private Venture Capital
3i EUROPE http://www.3i.com/italy
2.4. Provincial tender to support SME innovation, quality and auditing in the province of Milan
On the basis of the guidelines outlined by the Innovation Forum, the Province of Milan developed a
tender to support SME innovation, quality and auditing within the province of Milan. This tender
is promoted by the Central Bureau for Economic and Social Development of the Province of Milan
and aims at fostering the entrepreneurial competitiveness of SMEs.
With this in mind, the Province wants to favour the development of IT, communication
technologies and quality processes through financial incentives to stimulate investments and
contribute to long-term corporate expenses in order to strengthen the presence of SME on national and
Overall, a total amount of 13 million € was offered to SMEs in the area of Milan.
The contents of the project
This initiative was launched at the beginning of October 2000. The tender ended on February 28 th
2001. This project ascribes a crucial importance to e-business policies as a tool to foster
competitiveness and improve quality standards. These policies (trade negotiations, web sites, online
catalogues, corporate branding) serve as a hub in the production/distribution chain and favour the use
of environmental management systems and quality standards for products and processes.
The Province of Milan allocated funds for 4 different projects:
Piccola Impresa WEB (Project 1): This project received an allocation of 4.000.000.000 ITL to
support and foster the promotion of e-commerce policies for SMEs. Moreover, this project favours
a first approach to telematic solutions. Each company receives a single contribution amounting
to 3 million ITL.
Piccola Media Impresa NET (Project 2): This project received an allocation of 16.500.000.000
ITL to assist SME in the use of IT and communication technologies and to provide guidance
during the development of commercial and/or corporate projects focused on IT development and
Internet solutions (e-business, e-commerce, e-procurement). This initiative covers 50% of the
expenses faced by the companies that implement e-business, e-commerce projects. The project
allows up to a maximum of 50 million ITL per company.
Piccola Impresa Quality (Project 3): This project received an allocation of 2.000.000.000 ITL for
direct contributions to allow small businesses to certify their corporate quality standards according
to ISO 9000 (1994 and 2000) in order to compete in advanced industrial markets. This initiative
covers 50% of the expenses faced by companies that desire certification. The project allows up to
a maximum of 4 million ITL per company.
Piccola Media Impresa CE (Project 4): This project received an allocation of 2.500.000.000 ITL
in order to allow small businesses to certify their corporate and environmental systems, processes
and products in accordance with international regulations and the UE provision for the use of the
UE product seal. This initiative covers 50% of the expenses faced by the companies during the
certification process. The project allows up to a maximum of 25 million ITL per company.
The subsidies as to projects 1,3,4 have been granted through the submission of an application until
the credit is exhausted. The grants under project 2 have been allocated on the basis of a classification
based on the presentation of a project and its evaluation. Evaluation criteria for the applications
submitted, privileged the consistency with the scope of the tender, the quality of the project, the
timescale, the costs to be faced and the innovative contents.
The role of technical advisors has been performed by the BIC la Fucina and by Euroimpresa.
5,068 applications were submitted. Of these applications, 2,642 were for project 1 (new web sites),
1,320 were for project 2 (e-business), 839 were for project 3 (ISO certification) and 267 were for
project 4 (UE product seal).
The global volume of the contribution amounted to 67 billion ITL.
1,333 companies received funding under project 1. 382 companies received funding under project
2. 530 companies received funding under project 3. 260 received funding under project 4.
The outcome of the initiative is as follows:
1.7% of the SMEs located within the Province tendered
2.9% of the companies having more than 3 employees took part in project 2,3,4
Thanks to the subsidies offered by the Province of Milan, it will be possible to design and
web sites for the presentation of micro companies (+4%);
e-business and e-commerce web sites (mostly B2B) (+24%);
ISO certifications (+9%).
2.5 Tender for the start-up of female managed companies and for the development of existing
ones, promoted by the Province of Milan.
In the month of February 2002, the Province of Milan promoted a special initiative to
foster women-based start-ups. Thanks to a series of investments to support long-term
expenses of new or existing companies, the initiative aims at revamping women’s
entrepreneurship within the territory.
In order to meet this goal, the Province of Milan launched a tender made up of two main
Objective A - “DONNA CREA IMPRESA”: 1.200.000,00 € was allocated to support the creation
and the start-up of women-based small sized companies.
Objective B - “DONNA SVILUPPA IMPRESA”: 1.750.000,00 € was allocated to support
women-based SMEs for the development of corporate development programmes.
The subsidies foreseen under Project A and B are granted on the basis of the project presentation
and its evaluation.
The grants under project A are addressed to potential female entrepreneurs (individual persons)
that have been residing for at least 3 years in the Province of Milan and are committed to the creation
of small women- based companies located within the Province of Milan.
The grants under project B can be allocated to already existing women-based SMEs.
All entrepreneurial activities are eligible for funding under this initiative. Nevertheless, the
following sectors have a priority above others:
Highly innovative activities (product, process, management innovation)
The maximum amount that can be granted to each company accounts for 50% of the eligible
The maximum amount that can be granted to start-ups (project A) totals 25.000,00.
The maximum amount that can be granted for business development (project B) totals 15.000,00 €.
For those projects whose eligibility is established on the basis of a specific ranking and that are
presented by potential female entrepreneurs who, at the moment of submittance, have not founded the
company yet, the tender offers the possibility to ask for an advanced payment on the total amount of
the granted capital. This payment is equal to 5.000,00 €.
2.6 The support provided by Milan Town Council to start-ups and to entrepreneurial
activities in abandoned urban areas.
Under the national law n. 266/1997, Urgent economic interventions paragraph 14, the
implementation of “Interventions for entrepreneurial development in abandoned urban areas” is to be
carried out through Intervention Programmes by local authorities of the major towns (metropolitan
areas specified by L. 142/1990, paragraph 17) that face economic crisis, social decay and
environmental degradation of certain areas.
These intervention programmes foresee financial support for the following activities:
Guidance and technical support for the development and start-up of entrepreneurial activities
Training on self-employment and business start-up
Creation of new entrepreneurial incubators
Guidance and technical support for the creation of consortiums and mixed-type companies among
businesses located within the area of intervention
Development of economic and corporate co-operation
Creation of technical and corporate consulting services, support to testing, quality and information
For all the expenses faced to carry out projects within abandoned urban areas, local authorities
grant capital contributions on the basis of eligible expenses faced by the company. They include the
following maximum thresholds:
65% for the areas under UE objective 1,2, 5b
50% for the remaining areas
The Milan Town Council, under L.266/97, implemented three specific intervention programmes
to promote entrepreneurial development in “difficult” urban areas to revitalise the economic
framework of specific districts through the following:
unsecured capital contributions to develop investment projects proposed by new or existing
credit line availability for the development of entrepreneurial projects
training programmes on self-employment and entrepreneurship (tutoring if needed)
creation of a "Business Incubator" to support the start-up phase of new companies in strategic
Up to now, two tenders were launched to assign unsecured capital contributions to small
companies located in the following districts:
1st tender: Bovisa, Quarto Oggiaro, Stadera, Grattosoglio areas;
2nd tender: Adriano, Greco, Lambrate-Ortica, Ponte-Lambro, Spaventa, Barona, San Siro,
Cagnola, Villapizzone areas.
Thanks to the subsidies granted through the tenders mentioned above, 86 small companies carried out
their investment programmes.
The third long-term programme to foster the development of small businesses will focus its
scope in the following areas (besides the present ones):
Bruzzano-Comasina, Niguarda, Calvairate, Corvetto, Giambellino-Lorenteggio, Baggio.
Within the project, "Interventions to support small businesses development”, the Milan City
Council promoted the initiative known as "Acceleratore di Impresa a Bovisa" to support young
entrepreneurs and to foster innovative entrepreneurship and stimulate the growth of employment in the
Milano Bovisa area.
An Accelerator for companies working in the field of biotechnologies will be set up by the year
2002. This will be established in co-operation with the University of Milan - Centro Interdisciplinare
Studi Biomolecolari e Applicazioni Industriali (C.I.S.I.).
The objective of this intervention is the development and enhancement of small businesses and
entrepreneurship within this sector. The objective will be achieved through the transfer of knowledge
and experience about industrial research, in order to stoke up competitiveness in the target market.
A tender will allow to select businesses based in Milan that will participate in the development of
innovative products and methodologies in the field of geonomics, in the development, filing and
conservation of DNA and of other biological samples.
The Bureau for Entrepreneurial Activities – Adults Social Services Division – will promote and co-
ordinate the projects.
2.7. The Committee “Punto Nuova Impresa”
The Committee Punto Nuova Impresa was established in 1992 by FORMAPER, a subsidiary
company of Milan Chamber of Commerce, in co-operation with Lombardy Regional Authorities, the
Association of Lombardy Industrial Entrepreneurs, the Province of Milan Trade Association and the
Regional Board of Lombardy Chambers of Commerce. The objective of this Committee is to offer,
free of charge, the Punto Nuova Impresa information/guidance service to potential entrepreneurs that
want to set up a new business.
From 1992 to 1994, the Committee promoted the development and start-up of the first information
point in Milan. Thanks to the initiative of Lombardy Regional Authorities and the Union of Italian
Chambers of Commerce in September 1994, the Regional System PNI project started with the opening
of 13 information points (like Milan’s) all over Lombardy.
The mission of the PNI network in Lombardy is the following: to supply free information,
guidance, and support to entrepreneurs that want to set up a new business.
The no-profit activity performed by the Committee aims at providing support structure that is
easily accessible within a region like Lombardy where one of the richest economic networks on the
The PNI service can cover a wide range of needs. In addition, it facilitates the access to the
entrepreneurial world. In fact, besides providing comprehensive information, the PNI offers to new
entrepreneurs guidance and support to identify the skills and weaknesses in the development of the
proposed idea and design of an effective project.
The PNI selects the information available to entrepreneurs. PNI experts support the users to focus
on the critical issues and necessary areas to foster the development of the idea and a consistent
The information services provided by PNI are the following:
Information on procedures: The PNI provides all bureaucratic, legal and administrative
information necessary to start-up a new entrepreneurial initiative with the help of a purpose-built
software that outlines all the procedures to be followed for setting up 4000 different businesses.
Moreover, the database allows for real time printing of statutory papers of legal guidelines and of
every subsequent modification requested by public authorities.
Market information: The PNI provides quantitative data on the entrepreneur target market
through databases containing information about businesses present on the national territory.
Information on Financial sources: The PNI provides information on financial sources at the UE,
national and regional level. At the regional level, L. 68/86 and 9/91 sets forth financial
opportunities for young entrepreneurs up to 29 and over 35 years of age that are facing
employment problems and want to start up their own business.
The Committee offers guidance and support services. It is possible to help new entrepreneurs in
developing a project through one-to-one interviews.
Last but not least, entrepreneurs benefit from customised assistance. Potential investors that apply
for the grants allocated by regional laws (68/86 and 9/91) can take full advantage of a tailor-made
consulting service to draft the Business or Corporate Plan that is necessary to apply for financial
2.8. Regional Laws to support innovation
During the 90’s, Lombardy Regional Authorities promoted a series of statutory tools to foster the
development of start-ups and SMEs. Among the various interventions, it is worth recalling two current
R.L. 7/93-- investments to foster the innovation development of products, services and processes.
At present, Lombardy Regional Authorities allocate funds to help small enterprises to
innovate products/services and processes in accordance with regional law n. 7/93, par. 5. The
applications can be submitted within the established date or until the exhaustion of funds.
Unsecured capital grants equal to 30% of the eligible expenses with a maximum amount of
150 million are granted for the following:
Projects to develop new products or services. Eligible expenses include the following: expenses
borne in the 12 months following the application submittance, bearing at research, prototype
design, experimentation and final testing.
Project to innovate production processes. Eligible expenses include the following: expenses faced
during the 6 months (max) before the application submittance, bearing at and directly connected to
research and design, to the purchase of machinery and equipment.
The applications are ranked according to the arrival date at the Regional Record Office until the
exhaustion of funds.
R.L. 35/1996-- Development of small businesses
The above-mentioned Law sets forth some regional interventions for the development of small
businesses by the creation of infrastructures to support the growth of local production systems and the
spreading out of services for SMEs. In order to meet this goal, a series of contributions are granted to
local authorities, chambers of commerce, private and public corporations, entrepreneurial associations
besides the use of the Innovation Revolving Fund and of the promotion credit lines for SMEs. The
institutional representative of this initiative is the Lombardy Regional Council.
The intervention policies promoted by the Region focus on two basic fields: support and
development of local territorial units, and development of competitiveness of small businesses thanks
to financial subsidies.
A list of the intervention policies is shown below:
a) territorial re-alignment of the regional productive structure
a1) recovery of abandoned production plants
a2) creation of new facilities
a3) revamping and improvement of existing facilities
b) diffusion and development of service facilities for small and medium enterprises
c) support to businesses and corporations for the development of local production systems
d) direct contributions for the development of small and medium enterprises
d1) support to start-up companies designing and developing innovative services
d2) fostering of businesses internationalisation
d3) promotion of R&D projects
e) financial support to small and medium enterprises
e1) Innovation Revolving Fund
e2) Soft credit for SMEs
Initiative d.1 focuses mostly on direct interventions in favour of SMEs through the support of
start-ups designing and developing innovative products and services.
This project finances product and/or process innovation aimed at curbing environmental depletion
and the development of IT solutions for the production of innovative equipment/products.
The eligible expenses are as follows:
Purchase and installation of technological equipment for research and design operations
Special technical consulting
Financial support consulting
Expenses faced to set up the company
Design and development of prototypes
The volume of the contribution totals a maximum of Euro 100,000 that is equal to 30% of the
expenses borne in the first 3 years.
3 Other initiatives promoted by the Province of Milan to foster innovation
3.1 The PANEL Project
PANEL (Pyrenean-Alpine Network of Entrepreneurial Liaisons) is a transactional project entirely
financed by the UE. The project analyses three metropolitan areas: Barcelona, Munich and the
Province of Milan. This project fits into the PAXIS (see following paragraphs) network that sets forth
the co-operation among 15 European regions among the most technologically advanced.
The purpose of the PANEL project is to promote and strengthen the SME start-up phase
through the co-operation between Barcelona, Munich and Milan under the “Pyrenean-Alpine”
network. The project foresees the acquisition and the diffusion of information on success
entrepreneurial experiences, of suitable networking tools and methodologies that can be implemented
by the partner regions.
PANEL aims at analysing the need for the development and the support to start-up in highly
innovative sectors. The three regions have similar dimensions and territorial aspects: none of them is a
capital town but all of them are important economic hubs on a national level.
The network started its activity in September 2000. The main issues faced by the partner regions
are the following:
Identification of regional specificities for social and economic success and their transfer to other
less developed European regions under the economic point of view
Transnational exchange of experiences, methodologies and tool to support start- ups
The identification of SME key competencies and practices allows the acquisition of solutions,
ideas, topics and procedures that might be easily transferred from partner regions to less developed
areas of the European Union. This information was gathered by the dispatch of questionnaires directly
to the companies, with the co-operation of private and public incubators, universities, research centres
and venture-capital companies.
During the project implementation phase, the visits of the delegates and the workshops for start-ups
focused mainly on the following strategic areas:
Internet and Information Technology
These seminars allowed information exchange on good practices promoted by innovative
companies. In addition, the seminars provided a learning experience for local networks of private and
public actors that are working in the field of innovation.
Under the Panel Project, a cross-country analysis was performed on 130 start-ups working in
innovative sectors in the area of Barcelona, Milan and Munich. This analysis pointed out the features
and problems faced by start-ups. In addition, the analysis focused on the needs of start-ups and their
willingness to co-operate.
The results of this analysis are published in the third section of this report.
The information gathered under Panel Project, especially those concerning the analysis of start-up
support policies in the area of Milan are rendered in the present document. As to the initiatives
promoted in Munich and Barcelona, the data will be published on the Panel/Paxis web site
On the basis of the results achieved, the Project received a second round of EU funds.
Therefore, the network will continue its operation for the next three years. Moreover, Dublin
will join the Project.
3.2 The MATREND project
The MATREND project is not directly sponsored by the Province of Milan; but rather, originated
from the exchange of ideas and knowledge fostered under the RITTS Project.
After ASNM and the BIC La Fucina took part in the development of the RITTS programme, the
Matrend Project (Market Trends) was launched in accordance with the Fifth Framework Programme
for Technological R&D. The project gained the support of three long-standing European Development
Agencies (AGATE – France –, BIBA- Germany -, El Raso - Spain) and the approval and financial
support of the European Commission.
The project addresses small and medium enterprises that want to foster product and process
innovation and to solve technological problems. In fact, the project aims at promoting SME innovation
through technology transfer processes and the creation of networking policies between research
centres and universities.
The identification of technological needs and financial/technical tools to support them emerged
after the accurate and inexpensive audit performed by specialised bodies (among which there is Milan
Consortium of Research – UE Relais Center - for innovation development). Furthermore, thanks to
this survey, the necessary know-how for national and UE tendering was studied and identified.
The project is broken down into the following phases:
35 of the 250 businesses interested in the project were selected and surveyed by BIC operators to
estimate technology-related problems and the potential for the development of research and
On the basis of the first audit, 19 of the 35 businesses were selected and underwent a
technological “check-up” carried out by expert professionals from the Milan Consortium for
Research and Milan universities.
A report, generated on the basis of the technological audit, outlined the potential technological
solutions, the necessary level of innovation and the costs to be borne to start up a research project.
10 research projects were launched on the basis of the audit and of the report. The BIC submitted
a public financing requested in compliance with UE and Italian Laws and Regulations (Craft,
Esploraty award, Fit Ministero Industria, L. 297/99, L. 140/97).
The innovation projects launched deal with product and process technology either in the IT sector
or in the new materials and engineering sector.
The other European agencies followed the example of the BIC La Fucina by becoming the
interface between the entrepreneurial world and talented technology experts.
3.3 The DELCOSI Project – Excellence Internships
The DELCOSI (Development of a System of Transregional Mutual Support in Creating New
Innovative Companies on Grounds of Advanced Scientific Infrastructure) project was developed in co-
operation with the following European partner regions: Bremen (Germany), Oberosterreich (Austria)
and the Province of Milan.
The Project was financed by the three EU partner regions (General Office XIII) under the TRIP
Programme (TransRegional Innovation Project) and by Lombardy Regional Authorities.
The objective of the Project is to promote target-oriented regional initiatives based on mutual
auditing and feedback in the field of technological transfer. The project foresees the following: the
employment of young researchers by SMEs, the enhancement of a closer co-operation between SMEs
and universities, the promotion of university spin-offs and of university research results.
The project is made up of the following regional initiatives (sub-actions):
Sub-action: “Exploitation of scientific results” (Bremen). The aim of this sub-action is to help
technologically innovative companies in Bremen increase the number research-based products
and to push scientific institutions to market their scientific discoveries.
Sub-action: “Developing tools for corporate developments analysis”. (Bremen) The aim of
this sub-action is the identification of tools and methods for the analysis of SME innovation
Sub-action:“Innovation assistants/coaches for SMEs” (Oberosterreich) The project foresees
the audit and the evaluation of a programme financed by the Oberosterreich government targeted
at promoting new professional profiles like the one of ”Innovation Assistant”.
Sub-action: “Active technology transfer between university and SMEs” (Oberosterreich).
The goal of the project is to identify new methodologies to involve SMEs in technological
transfer initiatives, particularly focused on the chemical sector.
Sub-action “Scientists into small and medium enterprises, excellence internships” (Province
of Milan). The aim is to identify, test and validate technological transfer models based on the
“guided” placement of graduates/undergraduates inside SMEs in order for them to take part to
current innovation projects or to develop new ones autonomously.
The contents of the Milan Project “Tirocini di Eccellenza” (“Excellence Internship”)
At the basis of the Delcosi Project, Scientists into Small and Medium Enterprises- Sperimentazione
dei Tirocini di Eccellenza, there is the hypothesis that some technological transfer processes can
take place through the “guided” placement of graduates/undergraduates inside SMEs.
The project aims to increase the number of undergraduates hired by SMEs (in order to create
highly specialised professional profiles) that focus on the creation of university spin-offs, on the
provision of services that better meet SMEs needs and on the close co-operation between universities
and companies in order to increase the projects volume.
The project outlined methods to achieve the following:
Identify, test and validate technological transfer models based on the placement of
graduates/undergraduates (“excellence internships”) inside SMEs for 6-months-periods in order
for them to take part in innovation projects launched by the company or to develop new
To create an operating unit in charge of managing and monitoring the placement of
graduates/undergraduates inside the SMEs involved in the Delcosi project.
The involved entities
In Italy, the project was sponsored by the Province of Milan. It was launched thanks to the joint
financial contributions granted by the Province of Milan, Lombardy Regional Authorities and by
the European Union.
The practical implementation of the Project was carried out by the Province of Milan, by
Politecnico di Milano, through Politecnico Innovazione and the Internship Bureau, and by Carlo
Gavazzi Space Milano.
One of the success factors of the Milan Delcosi Project is the identification of more effective
methods to dovetail SME technological needs and interests with the aspirations of young
graduates/undergraduates and of academic tutors. In order to meet this objective, the project promoted
the setting-up of the following:
An Operative team in charge of selecting students/companies and of monitoring the progress of
A Regional Board performing the functions of a scientific committee that’s in charge of
evaluating and monitoring the Delcosi Project as a whole.
How to implement “Excellence Internships”
Innovation project proposal from SME
Identification of the research project and recruitment of the academic tutor
Placement of the apprentice in the company
Regular visits of the academic tutor to the company, assistance and monitoring of the
apprentice during the development of the project.
The news about excellence internships is the signing up of Tutorial Contracts (and project
resources financing) according to which the teacher/tutor must guarantee his/her constant
presence in the company during the apprentice coaching period, besides ensuring the control
of training results and technological transfer processes.
Two placement cycles for graduates/undergraduates were initiated. The first one was based on 13
innovation projects and 11 companies. The second one was based on 7 internships in 5 companies.
The following sectors participated to the project: aerospace industry, IT, e-commerce, and new
The Delcosi Project confirmed that technological transfer can be carried out in many ways. The
internship model turned out to be extremely effective thanks to its flexibility in adapting to the size of
the company, to its story, to the internal research activities, to the student skills, to research interests
advocated by the teachers involved in the project.
Politecnico di Milano decided to continue on a permanent basis the excellence internship
experience (thanks to financial grants allocated by the Province of Milan for the start-up phase).
The Province of Milan will continue the activity of the operative unit set up during the project with
the aim of expanding the internship experience to other universities in Milan and enhancing
financial support thanks to the grants of Lombardy Regional Authorities.
The advantages of the project are as follows: its low cost compared to the potential benefits; the
creation and the start-up of a mixed structure (university, institutions, companies) in charge of
managing and evaluating the project; the capacity to meet SMEs demand. Possible threats derive
from the gap existing between the timescales and the pace of universities and companies and from the
prevailing interest of the academic world for technologies belonging to “mature” sectors.
3.4. The CeTra Project
The Employment and Economic Development Office of the Province of Milan promoted a series of
initiatives to support innovation through the analysis of local innovation sources and the dissemination
of information about innovation opportunities.
The CeTra Project (Research Centres, Technological Transfer, Laboratories and Certification
Agencies Directory) fits into this framework. The project favours the co-operation between
companies and research centres thanks to the joint effort of the MIP (Consortium for innovation in
business management), of Politecnico di Milano and Politecnico Innovazione.
The project, that ended in April 2001, supported innovation focusing on local innovation sources
and on the opportunities for local companies, through the creation of a directory of public and
private research centres, technological transfer units, laboratories and certification agencies.
CeTra is not a common list of institutions but rather a useful tool to promote the activities performed
by innovation support centres. The final aim of the project is to make these activities visible,
accessible and understandable, stimulating communication and co-operation between the
research universe and the companies.
The final product of the CeTra project - a CD-Rom - was distributed to 5,000 companies. The CD
contains the following:
Database of research centres, certification agencies, testing laboratories, technological transfer
centres operating within the Province of Milan;
Statutory provisions supporting technological research and innovation at provincial, regional,
national and EU level. Fund raising is a crucial to innovative projects, therefore the directory
provides a comprehensive overview of public financial tools for companies wishing to invest in
The directory does not provide the complete research centres census; but rather, it lists 133 centres
that deliberately decided to take part to the initiative. The data contained in the CD-Rom – gathered
through online questionnaires sent to all the centres involved in the project – identifies the main field
of operation (hi-tech), the most widespread form of financing (EU resources) and the customer base
(40% SMEs, 30% big-sized companies).
The CD-Rom is the first result of a long-lasting and committed action to foster innovation. In fact,
the CeTra Project is continuing its activities through the creation of a “Vertical Portal for
Innovation”. Thanks to this tool, it will be possible to upload on the Internet current initiatives
promoted by the Province of Milan in the field of innovation and technological transfer and to set up
A virtual environment to foster innovation offer and demand among the centres that
perform research activities, test new technologies, invent or improve new processes, produce
new products (research centres and universities), among laboratories, certification agencies
and technological transfer bodies.
A Virtual environment, which becoming a reference point for many different actors, will
foster cultural, social and economic growth for the users of the services offered by the portal.
By consequence, the creation of a communication network among the actors will be promoted.
The Web portal will be subdivided into three different areas according to the needs of the users. The
three areas include the following:
3.5 The Bicocca Project for companies
The Province of Milan in co-operation with Università degli Studi Milano Bicocca and Consorzio
Milano Ricerche launched a project to organise a series of seminars in order to increase public
knowledge on the technologies develop by the universities.
These workshops stem from the need to disseminate the results of research activities and to not
exclusively offer to companies based in Lombardy the opportunity to meet the promoters of cutting-
edge scientific developments. The knowledge developed in this field is more and more targeted to the
needs of the industrial sector that considers it a technological innovation source to strengthen their
Thanks to the participation of Consorzio Milano Ricerche during 2000-2001, four technical
seminars were set up on the following subjects:
“Technology and the textile industry”;
“Technology and waste disposal processes”
“Knowledge Discovery: from data to knowledge (Data Warehousing and Data Mining);
During the seminars, the attendees received paper documentation divided into two sections: the
first one having a technical profile (abstract and copies of the presentations) edited by the researchers
of Università di Milano Bicocca; the second one containing general information on the technologies
promoted by European research centres. This initiative allowed the direct analysis of the technologies
presented and fostered innovation at European level.
The workshops had an extremely positive outcome for both the contents and participation of
companies (mostly SMEs), research centres and other interested actors.
Among the results achieved by the seminars there are the following: better access and
advertisement of research and technology achievements, creation and/or strengthening of new contacts
between Università della Bicocca, Consorzio Milano Ricerche and the companies working in the
sectors involved; fulfilment of milestones in terms of number of attendees, technicality and of
discussion forum on the issues outlined by the companies.
On the basis of the technologies presented during the seminars, some companies planned R&D
projects and contracts. Moreover, the workshops allowed for the promotion of deeper connections
between universities and the entrepreneurial world.
3.6 The European networks: PAXIS, IRE, Metropolis, RINNO
Many European projects promoted by the Province of Milan fostered networking actions among
European partner regions that brought to the creation of thematic networks in the field of technological
innovation such as: PAXIS, IRE, Metropolis, RINNO.
The PAXIS network
The PAXIS network ((Pilot Action of Excellence on Innovative Start-ups, for further reference
www.cordis.lu/paxis) was developed by the European Commission in order to focus on the
experiences of some Excellence Regions in the field of innovation promotion.
15 European Excellence Regions were selected on the basis of specific indicators and grouped into
4 Thematic Networks.
The overall objective is to improve and exchange the methodologies existing in the regions to
stimulate and support new technologies-based companies. Among the expected results of the
projects there is the improvement of the regional systems thorough mutual learning, experience
exchange and European success stories dissemination.
Among the objectives pursued by thematic networks there are the following:
to identify resources and competencies, relevant experiences and key actors of excellence areas
to organise interactive workshops, seminars, working group, etc
to disseminate success stories and good practices
Each thematic network focused on priority issues for innovation support policies such as:
start-up financing tools
technological transfer for high-tech companies and for the use of advanced technologies in
start-up support in sub-contracting chains
improvement of training and education for entrepreneurs
The four thematic networks belonging to PAXIS are:
• KREO: Oxfordshire (GB), Karlsruhe (DE), Lyon-Grenoble (FR) and Emilia-Romagna
• HIGHEST: Alpes-Maritimes (FR), Helsinki region (FI), Turin and Southern Sweden
• SPRING: Stockholm (SE), Cambridge (GB), Stuttgart (DE) and Madrid (ES)
• PANEL: Munich (DE), Milan and Barcelona (ES)
The IRE Network
The RITTS (Regional Infrastructures and Technological Transfer Strategies) and RIS (Regional
Innovation Strategies) projects, promoted by the European Commission fostered the creation of
European networks to support innovative processes at regional and local level. Among these
initiatives, the IRE (Innovating Regions in Europe) network plays a fundamental role due to the fact
that it facilitates the exchange of experiences among regions developing regional innovation policies,
strategies and programmes and favouring the access to good practices.
The European Commission backed the creation of this network to support the exchange and
dissemination of the most significant experiences. At present, more than 100 European regions
launched regional programmed to support innovation processes and took part to networking activities.
Local authorities are more familiar with the needs of the companies located in their area. This is
why the Province of Milan joined to the IRE network in order to develop tailor-made programmes to
encourage SME innovation.
The network is open to European regions (even for those that are not RITTS/RIS partner regions)
implementing good practises for innovation promotion. At present, other thematic networks are being
set up in order to facilitate innovation-networking activities among 250 actors all over Europe. Besides
fostering regional contacts in order to promote the exchange of good practices and competencies, the
network focuses on three basic issues:
To promote regional cohesion, helping less favourite regions to increase their technological
potential and to become more competitive
To foster regional development through innovation so that it will become one of the crucial
goals of policy makers
To fully exploit the innovation potential of highly advanced regions through the improvement
of consulting, co-operation and consensus among regional actors
The network official web site (www.innovating-regions.org) is an up-to-date source of
information on the following issues:
Partner regions (information sheets on social and economic characteristics of the regions, RIS/
RITTS projects description, etc);
Concrete and interesting experiences to support innovation
Events (meetings, seminars, tenders, etc)
The technical secretariat co-ordinates a wide range of services such as: thematic forum, ad hoc
assistance for partner regions, newsletter on network activities, library, contacts directory for the RIS
The Metropolis network: European forum on metropolitan innovation strategies
METROPOLIS is a transnational co-operative network on innovation strategies grouping big
European urban regions. Financed by the EU Innovation Programme, Metropolis was launched in
1999. It was initially made up of four Big Urban Regions (Madrid, Lion, Lisbon and Helsinki).
The network opened up to other metropolitan areas fostering innovation within their territory. At
present, there are 12 metropolitan areas involved in the project. The Province of Milan through its
Economic Activities Division joined the network in 2001.
The objectives of the network are as follows:
The identification and the analysis of crucial issues for regional planners as to the innovation of
Big Metropolitan Areas and in particular for the post-RITTS implementation phase.
The exchange of experiences through thematic seminars focusing on key issues for regional
innovation that promote strategic planning and innovative programmes implementation on the part
of policy makers.
The possibility for policy makers and experts to probe common problems that should be faced to
encourage technological transfer and innovation.
The dissemination of the results achieved through the seminars with a particular focus on the
subjects selected by each partner (Web site and Newsletter).
The partner regions are the following:
MADRID (SPAIN) DGI-CAM: DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF RESEARCH-
AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY OF MADRID
PRAGUE (CHECH TECHNOLOGY CENTRE
LISBON (PORTUGAL) CCR-LVT
STOCHOLM (SWEDEN) CITY OF STOCKHOLM
TALLIN (ESTONIA) CITY OF TALLINN – CITY ENTERPRISE BOARD
OSLO (NORWAY) OSLO BUSINESS REGION
ROTTERDAM CITY OF ROTTERDAM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
HELSINKI (FINLAND) CULMINATUM
MILANO (ITALIA) PROVINCIA DI MILANO
ROMA (ITALIA) COMUNE DI ROMA
VIENNA (AUSTRIA) VIENNA BUSINESS AGENCY
BERLIN (GERMANY) FAV: TRANSPORT TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM NETWORK
The RINNO network
The RINNO project started in January 2000 thanks to the financial contributions granted by the
Enterprise General Bureau, the Regional Policies Office and by the Research General Bureau. On the
basis of this project, an IT-based network was created. The Province of Milan is a member of this
project. This network offers information on good practices in the field of regional innovation with a
particular focus on SMEs.
This tool enables the regions to receive information about innovation promotion by the European
regions. It also allows them to exchange feedback and to keep up-to-date.
The Rinno Web Site is mainly addressed to individuals and corporations that are acting in the field
of regional policies to foster innovation and technological transfer. The web site contains three
Information of regional system to support innovation all over Europe;
Example surveys to explain good practices in different settings;
Practical guidelines on regional innovation.
The purpose of the project and the network is to help policy makers improve existing and new
programmes to be disseminated all over Europe through information provided by experts and capital
Rinno structure is similar to the database for national innovation policy makers (Indagine sulle
tendenze dell'innovazione in Europa – Survey on Innovation Trends in Europe). This database can be a
useful reference framework for the regions and it can offer new ideas and contacts besides presenting a
wider profile of innovation policies.
For further reference: http://www.rinno.com; http://trendchart.cordis.lu/.