URENIO focuses on the technological development of cities and regions and their ability to create environments supporting R&D, human skills, and innovation. Interest in the contribution of technological innovation to urban and regional development peaked after 1980 with the research conducted on the industrial districts of central Italy and the west coast of the USA, and the planning of large technopoles in Japan. Since then, technology and more specifically technological innovation have been a fixed point of reference in the analysis and planning of cities and regions, with rapid developments not only in the theoretical field (regional innovation systems, learning regions, and intelligent cities) but also in the field of regional policy and urban and regional planning.
At the policy level, the European Commission -starting at the beginning of 1990s- introduced a family of policy schemes that gave a strategic view on technology and innovation at the regional level. Regional Innovation and Technology Transfer Infrastructures and Strategies (RITTS), Regional Technology Plans (RTP), and Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) provided co-finance and guidance to regional governments to undertake an assessment of their regional innovation potential, and define strategies that promote the cooperation and capabilities of the small firm sector, the research and technology community, and the public authorities. Today, the new development strategy of 2014-2020 is Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3). Such strategies, based on the principles of Europe 2020 for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, aim to deliver high levels of employment, productivity, and social cohesion in the EU and the Member States. Since its foundation, URENIO has coordinated numerous projects and has worked closely with national and regional authorities in their effort to develop technology and innovation strategies, becoming thus a leading research and consultancy organisation in the field.
At the research level, URENIO focuses on regional and local innovation systems; district based innovation ecosystems such as clusters, technology and science parks, living labs; innovation networks; user-driven innovation ecosystems; management of innovation systems; measurement and assessment of innovation performance etc. Recently, the emphasis has shifted towards innovation eco-systems due to their explicitly systemic nature which penetrates the social system and the increasing role of open innovation and digitalization on their equilibrium. The richness and diversity of innovation actors (quadruple helix), the emergence of bottom up participatory schemes and the central role of Information and Communication Technologies in connecting the nodes of the system create evolved dynamics and an emerging intelligence.
With more than 20 years of research in the field, URENIO has to demonstrate significant experience in the following areas
- Cities and Regions of Technological Innovation with projects related to the development of smart/intelligent innovation environments, living labs and user-driven innovation ecosystems (more at Smart/Intelligent Cities).
- The development and planning of micro innovation ecosystems such as Clusters, Technopoles, Science and Technology Parks, innovation centres, incubators and the support of spin-off policies. Some indicative projects are INNOLAB, Medicube, K-Clusters, Super SMEs, Virtual Tech Park etc.
- Support in Innovation Management such as new product development, IPR management, measurement and assessment of innovation, technology valorization and technology transfer. Some indicative projects are NPD-NET, INTERVALUE, METAFORESIGHT,Q-LIME etc.
- Support in Innovation Strategy Development especially with regards to the initiatives of European regions to develop innovation strategies for the creation of regional competitive advantage based on knowledge and technological learning. URENIO has participated in numerous projects supporting the development of RITTSs, RTPs, RIS, RIS+ and Smart Specialisation (S3) strategies in European regions and is currently working on a large scale project (ONLINE S3) that aims to develop an e-policy platform augmented with a toolbox of applications and online services, which will assist national and regional authorities in the EU in elaborating or revising their smart specialisation agenda.