Veneto Nanotech S.C.p.A. is an organisation created in order to coordinate the activities of the hi-tech cluster of nanotechnology applied to materials promoted by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR). Its mission is to be a link between companies and research institutions interested in nanotechnology.
The objectives of the hi tech cluster are:
· Attraction of talents and the further development of their capacities through continuous investment in education and research;
· Development and activation of infrastructures for research activities and industrial prototyping;
· Promotion of the opportunities offered by nanotechnology for the innovation of industrial processes and/or products.
· Encouragement and promotion of private investments for scientific research in the field of nanotechnology.
· Support on the creation of start ups by means of specialised services such as consulting, financial help, etc.
The Veneto Region
Veneto Nanotech is based and operates mainly in Veneto, the region in North Eastern Italy which includes Venice and is considered one of the most innovative areas in Europe. It has been the leader of the Italian industrial development for the past few decades, with plenty of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) focused on exporting "smart" products and niche technologies. More than 50% of such SMEs, currently use or will produce materials affected by nanotechnology.
Moreover, Veneto hosts some of Italy’s most distinguished and prestigious Universities (University of Padua, University of Venice, Venice University Institute of Architecture, and University of Verona) with high quality of teaching and research, and a broad spread of academic subjects related to nanotechnology.
Veneto is also the location of important research centres. Just to name some: VIMM (Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine), CISAS (Centre for Studies and Activities for Space), CNR (National Council of Research) Padua Research Area, INFM (National Institute for Material Physics) Padua Research Unit.
The aforementioned characteristics of the region provide the ideal conditions in order to create a high tech cluster, which can successfully compete with high tech clusters from around the world.
The Nanotech Cluster
Veneto Nanotech is in straight collaboration with both public and private institutions. With an overall budget of €60 M over a five year period, and with the support of the Central and Regional Government, local administrations and institutions, the Universities of Padua, Venice and Verona, as well as major research institutions, Veneto Nanotech aims at creating international excellence in the field of nanotechnology applied to materials.
In the medium term, Veneto Nanotech will generate a virtuous circle involving research institutions, innovative companies and private and public investors to foster leading entrepreneurship in nanotechnology.
Other institutions operating within the boundaries of Veneto Nanotech are:
· CIVEN, a non-profit organisation among the universities of Padua, Venice and Verona, which performs basic and applied research, as well as training activities (International Master in Nanotechnologies). At the moment CIVEN is engaged in 7 long term research projects which cover a wide range of nanotechnology issues.
· NANOFAB, a nanofabrication facility laboratory, situated at VEGA Science and Technology Park in Marghera (Venice), provided with state-of-the-art equipment for R&D activities for both universities and companies. Nanofab is one of the first European laboratories designed to promote technology transfer and introduce nanotechnology to industrial production.
Among the various means used to attract talents and support high tech start-ups in the region, Veneto Nanotech organises the “Nanochallenge Business Plan Competition” (www.nanochallenge.com). Nanochallenge is an international competition, with a grand prize of €300,000 worth of investment, giving participants an actual opportunity to create a start-up company. It is the first competition in Europe dedicated to Nanotechnology and open to teams from all over the world. The initiative has been hailed a great success. In fact, the first edition of Nanochallenge attracted high profile researchers and nanopreneurs, giving them the opportunity to present their business ideas in front of venture capitalists, other researchers, academics, and business consultants.
The competition is divided in two phases. In the initial phase, the candidates are asked to submit a four page executive summary to describe their idea. In the second phase, the twenty best ideas are chosen and proceed competing for the award of €300,000, which will be assigned by a high level international jury.
International Master of Nanotechnologies
CIVEN organises the International Master of Nanotechnologies (INM) intended for graduates in Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and other scientific degrees. The objective of the course is to train high profile specialists able to combine scientific knowledge and management skills. Graduates are expected to be employed at high tech companies as consultants, project managers in the research and development departments or to proceed to further studies. In fact, most of the IMN graduates are either PhD candidates (both in Italy and abroad) or employed in SMEs or in big multinationals such as Intel.
Lessons at the IMN are delivered by world class academics, trainers and researchers who operate at the forefront of nanotech turning theory into practice. The latest teaching methods are employed in order to ensure that training and research are of the highest quality. Students are involved in lab activities, career skill workshops, conferences and other activities aimed at promoting knowledge growth and personal development. Students that successfully complete their courses are expected to obtain a three month internship either by themselves or through the office in charge of coordinating student placements.
Veneto Nanotech is in charge of drawing the calls for proposal to the Minister of Education, University and Research which subsequently allocates the funds for specific research activities. In particular, Veneto Nanotech identifies the thematic areas of research to be addressed by the calls for proposal. In this way, Veneto Nanotech acts as the main link between the Minister and the organisations interested in getting funds for R&D activities, and guarantees that such funds would be used for projects consistent with the regional industry environment. The latest call -upon Veneto Nanotech's proposal- by the ministry amounted to €11Million.