Half-century-old Science Park Area in northeastern Italy
Hundreds of big names have made Italy the flagship country of the art and fashion industry. But it turns out it’s not just about creative energy. Behind each success story is a founding one — science — which makes creative ideas possible by introducing innovations. In Trieste, near the motorway exit connecting Venice with Austria and Slovenia, are two adjacent campuses of the Area Science Park. The state national research organization promotes the development of innovation processes in all leading industries of the country and the world.
Italy’s first innovation park aims to strengthen the links between research and enterprise, public administration and the private sector, to support national and international initiatives and promote territorial development. For about 40 years, the country has had a successful experience of an ecosystem environment of learning and cooperation.
"From a science park to an innovation agency" is the slogan of the Area Park.
Founded in 1982, Area Park has approximately 23,000 m2 of laboratory space for the science sector. In 2020, the innovation space has 38 branches. Among them are research and training centres, developers of services and metrological works of third-party companies, new companies with access to specialized services and the ELETTRA laboratory project.
Researchers of the Italian Science Park work with chemical characteristics, structural analysis, and even visualize future transportation industry materials. It turns out that to obtain a correlation between the structure, the strength of the material and its insulating properties, it is necessary to observe materials with a foam’s structure during different deformation processes. Obviously, this affects the differences between Italian cars and other well-known brands in the world.
The observation method is also used by Area scientists to invent textiles for sailing sails. We are talking about nanometric structures, which are invisible in traditional techniques — the latest material for Italian yachts.
Genomics and epigenomics
The park’s research platform is involved in genetic testing. The scientific breakthrough of residents is sequencing (determining the sequence of components in molecular structures) of a new generation. The method made it possible to analyze the entire genetic code of individual genomes. It provides resources for more in-depth disease research to develop diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive tools for the future.
In the Covid-19 era, diagnostic and asymptomatic tests to identify rare diseases are necessary to treat patients with various complications. Prognostic tests to identify genomic variants associated with greater or lesser susceptibility to common diseases (e.g., cardiovascular) are also crucial for the elderly. Finally, pharmacogenetic tests are on the list to assess an individual’s response to pharmacological treatment.
The Structural Biology Platform in the Area explores the molecular mechanisms of the cell. They are of particular interest for pharmaceutical and biotechnological development and study:
- biological macromolecules, for the influence of which create “smart” drugs for chemical “design” of new molecules and reduce their toxicity;
- transmembrane transport mechanisms of nanoparticles — they can be used as carriers of drugs;
- interactions of tissues and cells with nanoparticles and nanofibers.
Unfortunately, the level of digitalization in Italy is far from advanced. According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) for 2018, the country ranks 25th out of 28 EU countries. The position has remained unchanged since 2015. The problems of the direction are strategically important. The State Employment Service estimates that in 2018, 85,000 new specialists were required, of which 65,000 for entry-level positions, most with higher education, to meet the demand for labour at least in part.
It isn’t easy to find a data scientist, business analyst, project manager, cybersecurity analyst and many other specialists to implement digital transformation projects in the country.
Area Science Park aims to improve the staffing situation in a country with a critical state of innovation specialists. Therefore, it selects, increases the value and introduces the best Italian startups in the IT field with potential international investors. In fact, in 2018 and 2019, Area organized the first and second delegations for several startups represented in the park at the CES consumer electronics exposition in Las Vegas under the Department of Economic Development’s auspices. Currently, Area management is selecting new startups for the third delegation in 2020.
For 42 years, the science park has been developing areas that catalyze and implement ideas that make Italy known worldwide. A time-tested ecosystem approach that combines science, technology and creativity is proving its effectiveness.