Business and research in North East Italy
Unismart is making a personal mantra of technology transfer
There is a patent out for the separation of silicon and glass that aims to reuse decommissioned photovoltaic panels (which are on the up, after the boom of installations resulting from government incentives). Another seeks to refine online services – which we have all run up against – in an attempt to prove to us that we are men, and not machines, before a PC. These are two examples of a concrete link between research and business. The leitmotif of the Innovation Talks was precisely this: to demonstrate how the University of Padua, via its subsidiary Unismart, is making a personal mantra of the concepts of third mission and technology transfer – a “marriage” between those, inside and outside the laboratories, who think of the future, and those who must give that innovation material form.
Unismart is one of the greatest successes of the University of Padua. “It showcases our research activities throughout the region,” explains the Vice Rector for Technology Transfer, Fabrizio Dughiero. And the results are there to be seen: from September 2016 to date “we have licensed 4 patents, three with an American company, and have put together a community of around 70 companies, both national and international,” confirms Mr Dughiero. “Moreover, at least half of our departments (of which there are 32, ed.) have signed research contracts with enterprises.” Unismart Managing Director, Stefano Carosio, remarks: “Ours is a unique venture of its kind in Italy: a company among companies, wholly owned by a university that represents the highest standards of excellence in the field.”
One of the topics presented at the meeting by Massimiano Bucchi (University of Trento) and Moreno Muffatto (University of Padua) was “When errors become innovation”. Another issue, “Useful work: people in industry 4.0”, was discussed by Alberto Baban, President of Venetwork, Maria Raffaella Caprioglio, President of Umana, Martina Gianecchini, Vice Director of the Digital Professions Observatory of the University of Padua, and Annalisa Magone, President and CEO of Torino Nord Ovest. The debate then moved on to a comparison between different technology transfer models, with the contributions of Stefano Carosio, Anil Dave, Head of the Innovation and Transfer of Technologies Unit of the Italian Space Agency, Fabrizio Dughiero, Vincenzo Russi, CEO of e-Novia, and Gianmarco Montanari, Director General of the Italian Institute of Technology.
Montanari’s three Ps
Montanari then proposed his own personal solution. “What aspects of our researchers’ initiatives do we seek in order to understand whether they can have a practical impact on business? The three fundamental Ps: people, perspiration and product. People, who must be motivated and well trained. Perspiration, that is, hard work and total – even crazy – dedication. And finally product, which must be scalable, modular, and capable of being adopted directly by the market.” The closing speech was made by the Rector of the University of Padua, Rosario Rizzuto. While serving at the apex of the university, Mr Rizzuto is also a biomedical researcher of international repute, who continues, despite his many commitments, to work in the laboratory at least once a week. “True, radical, revolutionary innovation. New, unexpected knowledge and ongoing interaction with the production world. These are the pillars of technology transfer.”