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Innovation and Human Capital

Innovation is a crucial matter for the territorial enhancement and for the development of policies capable of responding to the rapid changes of the 21st century.

The importance of the regional dimension of innovation is confirmed by the very nature of the local economic fabric, powered by companies that are interconnected in global value chains and open to the international market.

9 clusters

In the development and innovation model of a region, an important role is played by Clusters. This aggregation of companies, universities, research centers and other public or private entities - focused on specific areas of activity/ technology and provided with legal personality and a governance model - supports and nourishes the competitiveness of the regional ecosystem encouraging its innovative processes.

Competence Center 4.0

In addition to the aforementioned Clusters, a significant role in the innovation process of the Italian regions is played by the 4.0 Competence Centers, which provide a service to companies that is developed on three axes:

  • orientation, in particular for SMEs, through the preparation of a series of tools aimed at supporting companies in assessing their level of digital and technological maturity;
  • training, with the aim of promoting and disseminating skills in the Industry 4.0 sector through training in the classroom, on the production line, and on real applications, using, for example, demonstration production lines and development of use cases, for the purpose to support the understanding by the companies that benefit from concrete benefits in terms of reducing operating costs and increasing the competitiveness of the offer;
  • implementation of innovation projects, industrial research and experimental development, proposed by companies, including those of a collaborative nature between companies, and supply of technology transfer services in the Industry 4.0 area, also through actions to stimulate the demand for innovation by companies , particularly SMEs.
  • MADE is the competence center for industry 4.0 in Lombardy. Attended by 4 universities - headed by the Politecnico di Milano, and the universities of Bergamo, Brescia and Pavia - it is participated by 43 companies and 1 public body. Launched in September 2019 on the Bovisa campus, in the northwestern belt of the Lombard capital, it is strategically located close to companies dedicated to innovation, such as the PoliHub, the accelerator of the Milanese university that hosts 113 entrepreneurial realities, and the Joint Platform of the Politecnico di Milano with the Tsinghua University of Beijing.

Smart Specialization Strategy (S3)

The Smart Specialization Strategy (S3) of the Lombardy Region for the period 2021-2027 confirms the centrality of innovation in the regional vision: with a focus on the industrial districts and on the Lombard Technological Clusters, the policies focused on the organic systems of competence draw attention on flexibility, digitization, environmental sustainability and the transition towards a circular economy (in line with the strategic framework that is being created at national and European level).

The development and relaunch of the economic-productive system, also following the Covid19 pandemic, passes through guidelines such as the economic relaunch of exports and the internationalization of Lombard companies, the attraction of foreign investments, the reshoring of businesses and research and innovation system as well as qualification in terms of sustainability. In this context, the following is a priority for the Lombardy Region:

  • encourage the resettlement in Lombardy of previously relocated high value-added activities, focusing on innovation and qualification in terms of sustainability;
  • facilitate access to credit and simplification of access and disbursement of public contributions, favoring the relaunch and development, in an innovative key, of companies and the Lombard research and innovation system;
  • promote full employment, also through the retraining and reintegration of people involved in corporate crises and develop and uphold the talents of the future by focusing on inclusive education, the development of higher technical training and fighting early school leaving, all this with awareness of the new training needs, for example for the development of green jobs and digital skills.

As part of the Smart Specialization Strategy, the Lombardy Region has identified seven main Areas of Specialization, particularly strategic and prioritized:

  • Aerospace
  • Agribusiness
  • Eco-industry
  • Creative and cultural industries
  • Health industry
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Sustainable mobility

In addition, there are Smart Cities and Communities, representing a strategic driver to boost the emerging of thriving industries.

Open Innovation

Also through the first update of the Smart Specialization Strategy 2021-2027, the Lombardy Region has recognized the leading role of research and innovation in supporting industrial transformation toward digital transition and sustainable development. S3 also has a fundamental function in encouraging and promoting bottom-up innovation processes, according to the Responsible Research and Innovation paradigm. In this perspective, the Lombard Technological Clusters and the Open Innovation platform make it possible to nurture continuous and systematic processes of entrepreneurial discovery, and offer the territory the opportunity to actively participate in the definition of new solutions in response to emerging needs.

  • Open Innovation: a platform that brings together skills, ideas and innovation projects. The Open Innovation platform promoted by the Lombardy Region is aimed at all the protagonists of innovation, or those who - in the context of their professional activity - put their personal skills and those of the organizations with which they collaborate into play to create "ecosystems of innovation". Thanks to the platform, many opportunities can arise for the establishment of new collaborations or expressions of interest at territorial level, as well as for the search for and offer partnerships in collaboration with the Enterprise Europe Network.

Discover more:

Universities in Lombardy

Lombardy boasts the best universities at an international level, as well as a highly skilled human capital according to the market needs. The close link between universities, businesses and research contributes to the acquisition of soft and technical skills, for both students and professionals. Training and enhancement of human capital in the innovation process, the perfect combination for the future skills.

Higher technical institutes (ITS)

Booklet "Human resources"


The pins on the map represent the regional innovation centers that Invest in Lombardy has collected and mapped. In the search tool, you can find out which are the incubators, the accelerators, the innovation hubs and the research centers in Lombardy and where they are located.

Go to the tool

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