Over the last forty years Trentino’s autonomy has allowed it to plan and fund increasing investment in the field of Research & Development, transforming the province’s economic system into a genuine “research and knowledge hub”, recognised internationally for the significant results achieved.

With more than 20 public and private research institutes, a university at the top of national and international classifications in the sector and more than 2,500 researchers (the ratio between the number of inhabitants and the number of researchers is one of the highest in Italy), the province has become an important focal point for the most well-established international research networks, in areas as diverse as materials studies, neuroscience, nanotechnology, genomics and voice recognition algorithms.

Here in Trentino, the genomes of the vine, apple and strawberry were sequenced for the first time;  Microsoft set up its first joint research centre in the world, and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) its only Italian ICT Lab.

Public investment in research and development totals 150 million euro a year, representing 1.2 per cent of GDP. For every 1000 inhabitants, there are 5.1 people working in the field of R&D (as compared to the Italian average of 3.9 per 1,000). In Trentino, almost 190 million euro a year is invested in research and development activities in both the public and private sector (businesses, research institutes and non-profit-making institutions), with a system of business incentives for investment dedicated to companies which is unparalleled in Italy and in Europe.

The Trentino research and innovation system is based around several hubs. The University of Trento (16.000 students, 180 post-doctoral researchers, 700 PhD students and 560 professors e researchers),  the Fondazione Bruno Kessler (400 researchers, some twenty associated research centres), the Fondazione Edmund Mach (700 employees, about 1,000 students and course attendees, 100 hectares of laboratories, glasshouses, cultivated fields and classrooms),Trento RISE, core partner in the Italian node of the EIT ICT Labs network of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

The number of public and private actors which offer levels of excellence and concrete opportunities for technology transfer is also growing. Private research centres include COSBI (Microsoft Research University of Trento Centre), Centro Ricerche FiatCentro Ricerche Ducati TrentoBonfiglioli Mechatronic Research, Create-Net (Centre for Research and Telecomunication Experiment for Networked communities) and Graphitech (Center for Advanced Computer Graphics Technologies).

Thanks partly to increasingly innovative public sector demand, companies can come into contact with highly qualified human resources, take part in applied research projects, some even with international partners, and have access to the relevant funding. All this has led to numerous spin-offs and startups, centres of business excellence and company research centres.