Fondazione Politecnico

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Name of country: Italy  |   Type of regions: Developed  |   Type of HEI: Research Teaching   |   Intervenients: Academia Policy makers Industry  |   Duration: Ongoing

BP description:

Politecnico di Milano founded in 2003 Fondazione Politecnico, as an explicit tool to set up a stable Quadruple Helix collaboration in terms of entrepreneurial discovery. The objective was that of supporting the university’s research projects and contribute to innovating and developing the economic, productive and administrative environment. The mission of the Foundation is that of “building a more effective relationship between the university, industry and public administrations” (source: Fondazione website- Mission), in this sense, it is an explicit tool to set up a stable Quadruple Helix collaboration in terms of entrepreneurial discovery. In order to develop this major challenge, the Foundation main role is that of developing innovating projects both for large and small and medium firms and European projects, able to extend at the European scale the existing collaborative networks of the athenaeum and the local enterprise system. In this perspective since 2013, the Foundation is in charge for the management of Politecnico’s business incubator unit: Polihub. In addition to that, in order to develop the relationship with the wider society, Fondazione is also in charge of developing third mission’s projects, “involving teachers and students in the drive for civil and communal change”, in particular with a strong focus on cooperation with emerging countries (POLISOCIAL PROJECT).


Fondazione Politecnico foundation was the result of a joint effort between the Athenaeum and some of the most relevant city and regional institutions and corporations. The foundation of the FOnDAZIONE POLITECNICO was made possible after several legilsative innovations, introducing the definition of functional autonomies in 1997 and a law in 2000 supporting universities in instituting public-private foundations. The Founders are 3 cities (Milano, Cremona, Piacenza), two provinces (Piacenza and Cremona), one region (Regione lombardia), two associations (ASSOCIAZIONE PARIZZI |UNIVERCOMO ) one chamber of Commerce ( Milan), one bank (INTESA SANPAOLO), four important corporations (ENI | INDESIT | PIRELLI | SIEMENS). There are different level of participation into Foundation: Founders, Institutional Participants and Participants. The Institutional Participants are public and private organisations that regularly take part in the development of the activities of Fondazione Politecnico, with common aims and purposes. The list of institutional participants is now based on a number of new corporation, national and international, but also on other important public foundations in the health sector.

Entrepreneurial Discovery Process:

Fondazione supports its members in delivering innovative projects at European Level. An example of these projects, in particular a winning one, can be useful to show the way in which Fondazione contributes to develop excellence in a collaborative way among its institutional partners. In 2016 the city of Milan, together with Fondazione, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Milan, Fondazione Parco Tecnologico Padano and 12 partners, has candidated and won the "Urban Innovative Actions notice", funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Managed by the DG Regio, the call addresses urban issues destined to become of great importance for the EU. The proposal was based on the redevelopment of a rural area in the municipality of Milan (Cascina Nosedo), destined to become a center for open innovation. In the form of an Open Innovation Hub the rural area will host and develop innovative technologies in the agrifood chain: “acquaponic crops; new models for last mile logistics; involvement of SMEs and start-ups in the management of the agrifood chain; innovative productions and food consumptions”. The agri-food sector is among the specialisation areas identified by the Region; it was a central topic in Milan EXPO 2015.

Strategic Alignment:

Fondazione Politecnico is a very important tool in the HEI strategy and in terms of participation to the regional smart specialization strategy. In this perspective, on the one hand, Fondazione is directly involved in the regional cluster governance, as partner. At the same time, Fondazione was reinforced in 2013 with the role of managing and developing the activities of POLIHUB, the Politecnico Start Up District and enterprise Incubator which plays a very consistent role, probably more consistent than Cluster organized by the Region in terms of support to a logic of smart specialization based on entrepreneurial discovery (see details about POLIHUB in the following chapter). We could conclude that there has been no direct relationship between the two strategies.


As far as now, there is no evidence of future spaces of direct collaboration in the implementation of monitoring phases of the S3 strategy. Regional clusters are due to participate in the evaluation and monitoring phases. This can be relevant in terms of possible involvement of the HEI in this phase.