Copertina progetto Nodes PNRR
Research & Innovation

PNRR: Launch of NODES, the ecosystem for innovation and sustainable digital

The Ministry of University and Research has funded the proposal, submitted by the Politecnico together with a network of 24 public and private partners, “NODES-Nord Ovest Digitale E Sostenibile” (Digital And Sustainable North West), a project selected as part of the investments envisaged by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan that will bring 110 million euros to Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta and the westernmost provinces of Lombardy, Como, Varese and Pavia, and 15 million euros for research activities and cascading calls for proposals for the Southern regions of the Country. The objective is to establish one of the 11 Innovation Ecosystems that the Ministry has identified in order to support the sustainable and inclusive growth of the reference territories in what is identified as the double transition, i.e., digital and ecological.

The project has been assessed as capable of producing a considerable impact in terms of territories and industrial systems affected, because it involves a Macro-Region in which it will be possible to systematically implement a substantial number of actors, which will in turn generate an increase of the skill sharing capacity and of the creation of a wide network available for use by several territories, making the model scalable even once the PNRR is completed. Another strong point of the Macro Region is its ability to intercept SMEs and take them on board for research, development, technology transfer and training initiatives, thus generating a considerable critical mass in achieving the measurable objectives proposed by the Ecosystem and, potentially, to attract further resources also at a European level.

The implementing acting subjects (which will constitute the so-called Hub that will be responsible for the management coordination) are all public universities, in addition to the Politecnico: the University of Turin, the University of Eastern Piedmont, the University of Insubria, the University of Pavia and the University of Valle D'Aosta, all of which shall be associated within a dedicated limited liability consortium company (Scarl). The Universities themselves, together with the University of Gastronomic Sciences, will be able to benefit (as Spokes) from the collaboration of affiliated entities for the implementation of research activities falling within their domain of know-how. A total of 24 subjects make up the ecosystem: 8 Universities, 6 Innovation Hubs, 5 reference Research Centres, 3 Incubators and 1 Accelerator, 1 Competence Centre. Of the project’s overall budget, then, about 54 million euros will be used in “cascade calls” also open to entrepreneurial businesses, thus multiplying the number of players involved and the skills pooled.

Lastly, the Regions of Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta and Lombardy have expressed their commitment to guarantee and promote the territorial strategic guidelines necessary for the implementation of the project and especially the issuing of calls for tenders financed by the European structural funds subject to regional programming, which could be complementary and synergistic with the “cascade calls” envisaged in the Ecosystem proposal. Several companies and entities in the territories related to the areas of the proposal have also expressed their interest with a letter of endorsement for a collaboration with “NODES”.

The ambitious goal of the project, which will end in three years, is the creation of research and industrial supply chains in seven sectors linked to advanced Manufacturing: Industry 4.0 for 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 also 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 birth of start-ups and «Deep Tech» spin-offs in the identified sectors, attracting additional economic resources from Venture Capital funds. To implement this collaboration, collaborative innovation paths and tools will be studied between start-ups, SMEs, Large Corporations and the world of research that are innovative, scalable and replicable even after the PNRR is completed.

Finally, great attention will be paid to the training of talents and the up-skilling and re-skilling of personnel employed with advanced training and through innovative teaching approaches and their integration into the world of production, with a focus on the involvement of women in STEM and the innovation of the role of PhDs from an «industrial» perspective. Large corporations will support the Ecosystem by playing a key role in identifying industrial development trajectories, recruiting highly qualified personnel and supporting the absorption of the innovations developed.

“The commission of external experts that assessed the project praised the excellent quality of the proposal, acknowledging especially the attention paid to ensuring a broad impact of the initiative, both in social terms and in terms of increasing the competitiveness of the territory from an economic point of view, but even its sustainability.  The work of the new NODES Ecosystem will support innovation in the regions involved at a national level, while at the same time fostering the attraction of investments and collaborations on an international scale”, states Guido Saracco, Rector of the Politecnico di Torino.

“The financing of the innovation ecosystem for the digitalisation and sustainability of the North-West macro-region is a confirmation of the increasingly pivotal position acquired by public universities as strategic drivers of the country’s development. NODES is an innovation hub that enhances the role of the Piedmont territory as the bearer of a virtuous and replicable relationship model between universities and the productive fabric, looking at multiple and diverse development trajectories, albeit towards the common goal of digitalisation and sustainability indicated by the PNRR. This successful project effort now allows us to work united and each with the best skills to develop great business potential also in healthcare and individual well-being, culture and tourism, mountains as an opportunity for growth and realisation, and agro-industry, as well as to redefine the role of manufacturing and industry in a strongly renewed economic scenario. We therefore take stock of this success with great pride, but also with a full awareness of the importance of the work ahead. As an integral part of the PNRR implementation policies, this innovation ecosystem is a great opportunity for everyone, which entails our cooperation with a full responsibility for the role we have been appointed”, adds the Rector of the University of Turin, Stefano Geuna.

“The NODES project is an opportunity that the North-West system has shown it knows how to interpret and fully grasp, proposing investments in innovation and sustainability that will be the key to the social and economic development of future communities. Thanks to the PNRR funds, we will be able to intervene both on technological infrastructure and, even more importantly, on the training of the people who must become the key players of this process of change. The UPO, true to its sustainable development strategy that matches the objectives of the Digital and Sustainable North West project, will put the best of its human and technical resources at the service of NODES”, concludes the Rector of the University of Eastern Piedmont, Gian Carlo Avanzi.

The hub's Founders:

Politecnico di Torino, Università degli Studi di Torino, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Università degli Studi dell'Insubria, Università degli Studi di Pavia e Università Della Valle D'Aosta


  • Politecnico di Torino,
  • Università degli Studi di Torino,
  • Università del Piemonte Orientale,
  • Università degli Studi dell'Insubria
  • Università degli Studi di Pavia
  • Università Della Valle D'Aosta
  • Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche
  • Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Innovation hubs:

  • Fondazione Torino Wireless
  • Envipark - Environment Park SpA
  • BioPMed - Bioindustry Park Silvano Fumero SpA
  • Proplast - Consorzio per la promozione della cultura plastica
  • Città Studi di Biella - Città Studi S.p.A
  • M.I.A.C. Scpa – Polo AGRIFOOD

Public and private research centers:

  • Fondazione LINKS
  • Istituto Auxologico Italiano
  • Ospedale Maggiore della Carità di Novara
  • Fondazione Montagna Sicura
  • ERSAF - Ente Regionale per i Servizi all’Agricoltura e alle Foreste (Lombardia)


  • I3P S.c.p.a. – Business Incubator of Politecnico di Torino
  • 2i3T – Business Incubator of Università di Torino
  • Sviluppo Como ComoNExT spa



Competence Center:

  • CIM4.0

More about Innovation Ecosystems

Innovation Ecosystems are networks of state and non-state universities, Public Research Institutions, territorial public bodies, other highly qualified and internationally recognized public and private entities, and intervene in areas of technological specialization consistent with the industrial and research vocations of the reference territory, promoting and strengthening collaboration between the research system, the production system and territorial institutions. Innovation Ecosystems enhance research results, facilitate technology transfer and accelerate the digital transformation of companies' production processes with a view to economic and environmental sustainability and social impact on the territory.

A total of 11 Innovation Ecosystems will be financed, with a total budget of 1.3 billion euros, through a Ministry of University and Research call, under Mission 4, Component 2, of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.