Campus Sostenibile is the original name of an initiative started by Politecnico di Milano in 2010 and originally focused on the historical university urban campus and aiming at achieving a sustainable university campus. It was launched by the Rectorate and it spent its first year in developing new approaches (and practices) to energy consumption inside the campus (promoting rules and procedure to reduce energy consumption). After a first phase, the project was opened to the university community, in order to involve its capacity to design and implement innovative solutions. In a second phase, at the end of 2010, the project became part of a wider experimentation about the role of co-design funded within an EU research Project, PERIPHERIA which aimed at experimenting co-design processes, as part of the exchange between university and the city. The central idea of Campus Sostenibile is to make the scientific knowledge produced by University Researcher available to the wider urban community. In this sense, Campus Sostenible relays on the competence and expertise in the field of sustainability and innovative co-design available in the Politecnico research community. In this perspective, the initiative worked as a sort of living lab in the field of smart cities and communities, which is one of the specialization selected by the Region Lombardy Strategy.
The goals of the project are to test innovations developed by scientific research; to promote life style transformation and more liveable spaces; to become a positive example for the entire city; to cope with the international network of sustainable campuses. In this perspective, Campus Sostenibile is an interesting challenge to Smart Specialisation Strategies in terms of governance. Promoted by Politecnico di Milano, initially as an internal project, it became a project aiming at opening the University capacity of innovation to the wider urban community. As such, it produced stable relationship between the university and the city, in particular the municipal and the city council, but also with the citizens, promoting forms of co-design to local problems. In particular, a table was organised involving Politecnico and representatives of the local community (associations, schools, municipalities) in order to promote the discussion on the neighbourhood problems and to use the university campus to experiment innovative solutions to urban problems. In addition to that, Campus Sostenibile since late 2010, was the joint effort of both Politecnico di Milano and the State University, promoting thus collaboration between two different HEI in Milan. In this sense, it has provided the clear evidence of the necessity and possibility of a new governance model supporting Smart Specialisation.
Campus Sostenibile can be described as a relevant contribution to the Entrepreneurial discovery process from different perspectives:
• It worked as an inclusive and interactive bottom-up process in which participants from different environments (policy, business, academia, etc.) discover and implement potential new activities, identifying potential opportunities that emerge through this interaction; collaborative services are in fact a new field of specialization in the field of smart cities and communities and Campus Sostenibile contributes in making these Politecnico specialization evident to both the research community and the local society;
• It worked as a collector of entrepreneurial knowledge before fragmented and distributed over many research departments and experts on the one hand and connecting this expertise to the large public and to specialized organisations and companies.
• In this sense Campus Sostenibile acted as an opportunity of exploration and opening up of a new domain of opportunities (technological and market), potentially rich in numerous innovations that emerge as feasible and attractive.
The University campus becomes the place where knowledge and practice can meet. Based on a strong bottom-up approach in which everyone can collaborate and propose ideas, the initiative aims at creating a strong awareness on the topic of sustainability within the community. In this sense, it deals with the third mission of the university; this also because it works on the voluntary collaborative work of many components of both the POLIMI and UNIMI State university communities on a voluntary basis: no dedicated funding was initially provided by the institution. A web-platform supports the exchange, which was thought as the place where opportunities and problems become visible and proposals are collected and shared. In a certain sense, Campus Sostenibile works as clustering space.
Campus Sostenibile is considered by Politecnico di Milano a clear example of the capacity and leadership of the University. On the one hand, the activation of a number of design processes based on research innovations incubated in the Project, on the other the new relationship built between the university and the city through this process make the experience of Campus Sostenibile a pilot experience in terms of role played by the University in the field.