NODES innovation ecosystem introduces itself to the territory
The “NODES-North West Digital And Sustainable” project, selected by the Ministry of University as part of the investments envisaged by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) was presented this morning in the Hall of Honour of the Valentino Castle. Present at the press conference were the President of the NODES consortium and Rector of the Politecnico Guido Saracco, the General Director for Research Coordination and Development of the MUR Fabrizio Cobis, the Councillor for Budget, Finance, Economic and Financial Planning, Heritage, Development of Productive Activities and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of the Piedmont Region Andrea Tronzano and the Secretary General of Unioncamere Piemonte Paolo Bertolino.
The total amount of NODES funding is 110 million euros, which will have an impact on the territory of Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta and the westernmost provinces of Lombardy (Como, Varese and Pavia); 15 million euros will be dedicated to research activities and cascading calls for tenders in the Southern Regions of the Country. This is one of the 11 Ecosystems of Innovation that the Ministry has identified to support the sustainable and inclusive growth of the reference territories in what is identified as the double (digital and ecological) transition.
The implementing body - the so-called Hub - in charge of managing and monitoring the results and impact, is the NODES Scarl company, set up for this purpose by all the public universities in the area: Politecnico di Torino, Università degli Studi di Torino, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Università degli Studi dell'Insubria, Università degli Studi di Pavia and Università della Valle D'Aosta.
The implementing subjects are called Spokes and are coordinated by the same Universities that set up the Hub, together with the University of Gastronomic Sciences. The initiative as a whole sees the involvement of 24 public and private partners.
The ambitious goal of the project, which will be completed in three years’ time, is the creation of research and industrial supply chains in seven areas linked to the entrepreneurial vocation of our region: Industry 4.0 for sustainable mobility and aerospace, Industrial sustainability and green technologies, Tourism and culture industry, Digital and sustainable mountains, Health industry and silver economy, Primary and secondary agro-industry.
The project aims to support innovation on high-potential technological trajectories in order to develop new products and processes in existing SMEs on the one hand, stimulating research and technology transfer processes and increasing their competitiveness also at an international level, and on the other hand to foster the creation of start-ups and «Deep Tech» spin-offs in the identified fields, attracting additional economic resources from Venture Capital funds. In order to implement this collaboration, collaborative innovation paths and tools will be studied between start-ups, SMEs, large enterprises and the world of research, to be scalable and replicable even after the PNRR is concluded.
The NODES project began on 1st October 2022 with the start of research and design activities for technology transfer, acceleration and training for companies and new talent.
Work began immediately on defining industrial development trajectories in the seven areas on which the Ecosystem intends to stimulate and support innovation paths capable of increasing the territory’s competitiveness. An important contribution to the definition has already been gathered thanks to the involvement of territorial stakeholders representing industry, private finance, local public administration and civil society.
The press conference was also an opportunity to present the funding tools and launch the activities that will be implemented for the territory on each of the seven project areas.
35.5 million euros are the first funds dedicated to cascading calls for companies to support their research and innovation activities:
- 25.3 million euros are funds for research and development projects, submitted by companies – in cooperation form too – from the North-West and partly by companies from the South.
- 10.2 million euros are funds to facilitate access of start-ups and SMEs to support services aimed at promoting strategic investments in product, service and/or process innovation and accelerating the development of innovative enterprises
The cascading calls for tender for enterprises will be issued by the Spokes, the public Universities in the NODES area, with an institutional collaboration with Unioncamere Piemonte aimed at increasing the competitiveness of enterprises. Thanks to the webtelemaco.infocamere.it nationwide platform used by the business world, Unioncamere Piemonte will support the optimal management of the calls.
These funds are supplemented by 5.8 million euros to support “Proof of Concept” (PoC) projects proposed by researchers who intend to exploit the results of their research for commercial exploitation, favouring their transfer to companies and the establishment of new businesses, and more than 2 million euros to train new talents through PhDs with an «industrial» outlook and pathways to integration in the world of production.
The General Director of NODES, Chiara L. G. Ferroni, clarified how these calls will be able to trigger a leverage effect that will be able to expand the reach of the PNRR, generating new funding opportunities and multiplying investments. The Director invited companies and the wider public to visit the Ecosystem website - ecs-nodes.eu - to learn about the rich offer of training paths for up-skilling and re-skilling staff, the extensive stimulation and dialogue activities with companies, and the many open innovation paths for companies that will also involve students and start-ups.
The President of NODES and Rector of the Politecnico, Guido Saracco, comments: “The NODES ecosystem has all the required characteristics to carry out its mission of innovating our SMEs and enabling the birth of start-ups in the best way possible: thanks to the great efforts during the proposal submission phase, we managed to win a very large amount of funding, which will allow us to implement initiatives that will have an important impact on society, by promoting and strengthening the collaboration between research, production and territorial institutions. We are aware that this is a unique opportunity that must not go to waste, and our efforts will all go in the direction of maximising its results.”