In recent years, numerous industrial policy measures have been envisaged to boost the competitiveness of Italian companies which aimed at promoting a new corporate culture focused on enabling technologies, digital skills and new business models, essential to maximize the benefits of the 4th industrial revolution.

In order to answer to this specific territorial need, a national Industry 4.0 Network was set up, that is a system to support and accompany businesses in the digital transformation. The network is composed by 3 main physical and virtual facilities:

1. Competence Center (CC): highly specialized centres constituted, in the form of public-private partnership, by the world of research and business;

2. Digital Innovation Hub (DIH): representatives by trade associations, who offer specific training and support for their respective areas of expertise;

3. Punti d’Impresa Digitale (PID) (Digital Business Points): constituted by Chambers of Commerce to spread, support and train MSMEs on digital innovation issues, and to encourage the adoption and implementation of new digital industrial technology (Industry 4.0).

Chambers of Commerce are, therefore, assigned a fundamental role in favouring the digital transformation of businesses, especially those of a smaller size that are struggling to seize the opportunities offered by the 4th industrial revolution. In the three-year period 2017-2019, and for the incoming three-year period 2020-2022, they have established a network of 88 PIDs capable of offering training, information and first orientation services to MSMEs.

In particular, the PID of Reggio Emilia has developed the following actions:

• Call for digital vouchers 4.0, outright grants for the purchase of consultancy, training, hardware and software on the basis of eligible technologies;

• Mapping of the digital maturity of businesses through two types of assessment (SELFI4.0 and ZOOM4.0);

• Seminars and training events to spread the basic knowledge on digital technologies "Industry 4.0";

• Specialist assistance and one-to-one meetings with companies;

• Program agreement with the engineering department of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia to encourage the collaboration between businesses and the academic world;

• Partnership with Fondazione REI (Innovation Center) to support companies in developing R&D activities and technological transfer;

• Information activity on economic incentives and on the digital services of the Chamber of Commerce.

Image: E-book in pdf format created by the PID of Reggio Emilia in order to help companies to effectively activate Smart Working solutions during Covid emergency.

As far as the concrete outcomes are concerned, in the three-years period 2017 – 2019, Reggio Emilia Chamber of Commerce has allocated € 1,498,969,6 to implement and develop the PIDs. In particular € 1,050,250 were allocated for the digital vouchers I4.0.

• In 2017, 2018, 2019 digital vouchers were issued to enterprises for these amounts: € 20,250, € 630,000, € 400,000;

• In 2017 – 2019, 20 seminars/workshops were organized by digital promoters;

• In 2018 – 2019, 119 one-to-one meetings were organized;

• In 2019, 25 companies were involved to collaborate with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia for a total of 72 one-to-one meetings;

• 174 assessments (SELFI 4.0 / ZOOM 4.0) were filled out by local companies to measure the digital maturity level.

Despite the specific territorial characteristics related to Reggio Emilia's socio-economic context, these Digital Business Points have the potential to be replicated in many regions in Europe, as they address common digital issues and challenges. Since micro, small and medium enterprises remain the backbone of the European economy, a renewed focus on innovation and digital transformation is required for these companies to retain their global competitiveness. The benefits of digitalisation for MSMEs are multiple, allowing them to boost competitiveness, expand market access and improve customer relations.

Furthermore, after the emergency of Covid-19, the process of digitalization can represent a fundamental tool for MSMEs in order to actively respond to crisis, structural changes in local markets and other transformations.

For further information on the PIDs, please contact Claudia Bartoli, Business Service Manager | Reggio Emilia Chamber of Commerce, E-mail: [email protected] Web: