• Call Hub, the selected projects: from the smart label to the drone for pharmaceutical products

They are 33, here is the list. The Region increased the allocated amount from 70 to 114.5 million Euro.

Once the 78 applications submitted for the “Research and Innovation Call Hub” were assessed by a team of independent experts, 33 were the projects deemed the most outstanding. The Region, therefore, undertakes to finance them by making an extra effort on its part by issuing a total amount of 114.5 million Euro.

Through a resolution approved on 8th October and based on a proposal of the Vice-president Fabrizio Sala, the Council has consequently decided to increase the amount by allocating another 44.5 million Euro to be added to the 70 million Euro already foreseen for the “Call Hub”.

This way, the Lombardy Region will be able to support all the 33 admitted projects. If the funds were not increased, only twenty projects would have been financed. However, the premium quality of the received proposals convinced the Vice-president and Research, Innovation, University, Export and Internalisation Council member to propose the increase to his Council colleagues.

As a whole, it is envisaged that the financed projects will generate an investment on the territory of over 250 million Euro, involving both public and private resources.

“These are one-of-a-kind projects that will change the lives of citizens and have an impact on various fields of application, such as Health, Sustainability, Advanced Manufacturing, Smart mobility, Connectivity, Nutrition and Culture - explained the Vice-president. The innovation level is extremely high and we estimated that around 35% of these projects will file a new patent.”

An overview on the winners

 
In the Health industry, in particular, the submitted projects will enable the development of new drugs and cutting-edge treatments. This will see the employment of predictive models and personalised diagnostic approaches for plenty pathologies (from the most common ones, such as glaucoma, which affects 2% of the population over the age of 40, up to the most rare and difficult to be treated, like neurodegenerative diseases, the genesis of which still remains unknown, e.g. ALS, without forgetting oncologic diseases).

The most advanced technologies will be applied, such as 3D printing coupled with anatomical systems. New protocols will be developed for the sharing and standardisation of procedures for the collection, transport, analysis and treatment of biological samples and clinical data (biobank). The aim is to make personalised prevention and early diagnosis a reality, as prospected by the extraordinary improvements in genomics that took place in the last decade.

Among the winning projects is worth mentioning the one focused on the creation of a smart label. This will be able to adapt its message according to external stimuli, such as the modification of the expiry date of a product with respect to its preservation condition. It will ‘flash’ if the expiry date is drawing close. Moreover, by communicating independently with IoT devices, the label will also manage to monitor transportation conditions to check for the compliance with cold chain requirements. This way it will identify critical points and avoid the transport of compromised goods.

The attention given to sustainability is also proven through projects for new eco-friendly heating technologies or the use of electrical and electronic components from recycled raw materials to manufacture less polluting cars.

In addition to this, another project was selected with the objective of creating, among other things, a drone to transport pharmaceutical products under emergency conditions as well as a platform to identify and monitor traffic in critical circumstances. Another further project focuses on superfoods, nutritionally enhanced foods that can respond to specific health problems of the patients.

As regards connectivity, the challenge revolves around smart buildings thanks to 5G and a small satellite to monitor glaciers and forests in order to prevent possible natural disasters.
 

The appeal of the territory

The Call Hub aimed at fostering strategic R&D project of public interest, with actual impacts on the quality of life of citizens, also with a view to strengthen Lombard research and innovation ecosystems.

The Region Vice-president emphasised other two aspects. First of all, “with this tender we will put in place numerous prestigious collaborations - both national and international - with English, Swedish, Japanese and Indian universities, research departments and centres, as well as with all Lombard Universities and Scientific Institutes for Research, Hospitalisation and Health Care (IRCCS)”.
 
Furthermore, “to participate in the Call, nine enterprises have chosen to open a new head office in Lombardy, with a positive backlash on the employment market. These data confirm the appeal of our territory”.

The Call Hub in numbers and the role played by the Open innovation platform

The tender includes more than 200 partners: 45 large companies, 102 MSMEs, 57 research organisations. We are dealing with well-structured partnerships in which even the various Lombard companies, small in size but with great technical skills, participate: 80 micro and small companies, among which there are 5 innovative start-ups. The negotiation stage between the Lombardy Region and the partnerships started immediately to fine tune the projects and undersign the Agreements.

Following the signature, the projects should end in 30 months (two and a half years).
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