In September 2019, ART-ER welcomed the staff from Area Science Park - Trieste (Friuli Venezia Giulia) for a two-day event to discover the Emilia-Romagna innovation ecosystem: exploring strategies and measures, visiting laboratories and creativity-based spaces, understanding similarities and evaluating the potential for transferability in other territories.

The first day started in Modena where the group was introduced to both the Technopole and the FabLab. The former is a gateway to innovation and technology: enterprises can access industrial research laboratories equipped with cutting-edge tools and facilities but also benefit from a series of services (from internationalization to training). The latter, also known as Makerspace Modena, is a space open to the community where everyone can learn the art of prototyping, develop projects and get acquainted with the digital world.  

During the second day, participants focused on Cultural and Creative Industries and open innovation processes. ART-ER detailed the regional policies and instruments supporting the sector. The Emilia-Romagna Region has been fostering CCIs through several measures also aimed at connecting stakeholders and increasing cross-fertilization initiatives. This is based on the idea that if players with different backgrounds and perspectives (from researchers to technologists to artists and entrepreneurs) work together, they have a better chance of innovating and facing the challenges that arise from a global market more easily. 

Members of the Local Stakeholder Group of the RegionArts project attended the meeting and presented two renowned regional good practices: Incredibol! - supporting creative organizations in developing a business-like mindset through a range of tailor-made services - and Clust-ER Create - a community gathering a heterogeneous group of actors to multiply innovation opportunities for CCIs through a collaborative approach.

Finally, the study visit closed with an overview of open innovation actions, such as MATCHER. The event, promoted by the Emilia-Romagna Regional government and ART-ER, encourages international collaborations between established enterprises and innovative startups. The aim is to find unthought-of solutions to enhance products and services: boosting cooperative approaches and competitiveness at the same time.

The aforementioned examples describe a very active region with a fertile ecosystem where technology is viewed as an asset and creativity is an instrument contributing to positive change.  The future challenge, in line with RegionArts mission, is to keep investigating how this two world could be integrated with SMEs in a more systematic manner.