The House of Emerging Technologies of Turin, CTE NEXT, celebrates one year of its project with entirely positive results, establishing itself as a recognised reality locally, nationally and beyond.
Startup Genome, a Californian organisation that deals with research and consultancy to support the development of startup ecosystems, mentions CTE NEXT as a key ecosystem player in its prestigious Report 2022: a relevant initiative, which, building on the legacy of Torino City Lab, the City of Turin's open-air laboratory, offers companies support services and equipped testing areas, equipped with 5G connectivity throughout the territory.
There are more than 35 services in the CTE NEXT catalogue that can accompany start-ups and SMEs from the innovative idea to field-testing, providing free consultancy not only on target technology domains (5G and emerging technologies) and strategic sectors (Smart Mobility on land and in the air, Industry 4.0, Innovative Services for Citizens), but also on innovative business models and social impact assessment.
Numbers and enterprises
CTE NEXT was officially launched on July 6, 2021 as a project financed by the Ministry of Economic Development and co-funded by numerous local partners, with the aim of setting up a widespread technology transfer centre on emerging 5G-related technologies in strategic sectors for the area.
In this first year of activity, 377 start-ups and SMEs have been profiled by the CTE NEXT network. Of these, 116 are the companies that have been offered an innovation needs analysis service and 50 those that have already benefited from specialised assistance from the partners.
There are eight ongoing experimentations that are validating 5G services in the field for smart & safe mobility, better management of public assets and services, and new ways of working and producing. For example, some are testing assisted driving and obstacle detection technology on wheelchairs and scooters for people with reduced mobility in indoor spaces, pedestrian areas and public streets. Others are experimenting with innovative, ultra-light drones in the city, interconnected via the 5G network, for analysing the health and structural stability of urban green spaces.
One of CTE NEXT's companies is building a 'digital twin' of a city school building, for improved building information management to support building design, maintenance, energy monitoring and asset and occupancy control activities during out-of-school hours. And also solutions for the dynamic detection and management of energy consumption in the residential sector in a future scenario of demand-response type energy supply flexibility. In the Industry 4.0 vertical, 5G-enabled augmented reality tools are being tested to support technical operators engaged in the maintenance of equipment in an industrial context, to send audio/video data in real time and AI to perform recognition and tracking of three-dimensional objects.
Finally, but these are just a few examples, there are those who have experimented in the smart road field with artificial intelligence algorithms installed on edge computing nodes, to use existing cameras as environmental sensors or even pedestrian safety systems made up of 5G smart cameras, capable of recognising and predicting behaviour to provide an autonomous vehicle with accurate information in the vicinity of zebra crossings. Some widespread entertainment and square safety management technologies using IoT devices for large events have also been deployed on 5G networks already during Eurovision 2022.
A further eight early-stage start-ups have just started the acceleration process with the aim of improving their business model in different areas: from technological and sustainable agriculture to widespread cloud services; from the smart navigator for sustainable car parking to smart leak detection systems in water systems; from carpooling applied to logistics to artificial intelligence to improve waste sorting; from connected stages to offer widespread and augmented entertainment experiences to the strategic use of data for new urban services.
More than €450,000 of funds have been allocated to these and all the companies selected through public calls for tenders during this year to accompany their innovation path, which join a co-financing of about 390,000 euros. And we are starting to talk about impact indicators with the new start-up in the field of autonomous mobility and service robotics, which is being created by the CTE NEXT team and will arrive in September at the CSI NEXT headquarters in Corso Unione Sovietica 214, ready to close its first funding round.
In 2021-2022, CTE NEXT also realised more than 40 events ranging from information workshops to networking events ('Innovation Meetings') to exchange and replication events, which helped to position the 'Turin model' on a national and international scale. Being a diffuse technology transfer centre, the events were held in CSI Next, the headquarters of CTE NEXT, as well as in Talent Garden and OGR Torino, and nurtured a community of companies, start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs who see in this project and in this city a common base on which to build their business development.
CTE NEXT is also training: from the University of Turin to Politecnico di Torino, via Talent Garden Innovation School and CIM4.0 Academy, the training on offer was of great quality. This year, 23 masters, courses and webinars were delivered on topics related to technological innovation and digital transformation, with an important focus on 5G and emerging technologies.
The network of 13 partners
All this has been made possible thanks to a catalogue of services that is as unique as the 13 public and private partners in the project, which guarantee an integrated local response to the acceleration and technology transfer needs of start-ups and SMEs.
The list starts with the City of Turin, which accompanies the field experimentation of innovative technological solutions on the territory, making use of 5T, LINKS Foundation and Politecnico di Torino for the testing of CCAM (Cooperative Connected & Automated Mobility) technologies in the Smart Road area - exploiting the already existing infrastructure of the Mobility Centre of the City of Turin - and for the testing of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) technologies; of CIM4.0 for experimentation, for the definition of strategic roadmaps in the Industry 4.0 vertical and for the development of the skills needed to face the new technological challenges in this sector; of the University of Turin and CSI Piemonte in the Innovative Urban Services for the Smart City vertical. The two universities - the University of Turin and the Politecnico di Torino - are also key players together with their incubators - 2i3T and I3P - in support activities for the creation of new enterprises, in the search for talent for Open Innovation calls, in training and technology transfer.
TIM ensured the construction and field testing of the entire 5G mobile network infrastructure, consisting of four indoor nodes in the House of Technology and 18 outdoor nodes in the city; it also made available its Multi Edge Cloud Computing platform, to guarantee more secure ultra-broadband communication, as well as equipment, devices, SIM cards and other on-demand facilities, which in this first year represented the technological basis on which eight experiments and various demonstrations of new-generation digital services were developed.
Talent Garden takes care of communication and organisational support for all CTE NEXT events, and has worked hard to create an active community of aspiring entrepreneurs and startuppers and to provide training on Digital Transformation. CSI Piedmont offers its 45 years of experience in the service of PA to support start-ups and SMEs in the development of innovative urban services, the focus of the co-design and testing activities hosted in CTE's central node: CSI NEXT. It also ensures the management of this new hub, which this year hosted around 40 events (conferences, institutional visits, project and product presentations, training courses) and is inhabited by five start-ups (urban mobility, virtual and augmented reality, and energy consumption monitoring). Finally, Digital Magics caters to start-ups that want a quality booster with annual acceleration programmes.
Completing the team is Fondazione Torino Wireless, the technical coordinator of the project, which guides the qualification of needs and manages the service requests of companies, supports companies in experimentations in an urban context, contributes to networking and B2B activities and promotes replicability towards other PAs, also by virtue of its role as coordinator of the National Cluster for Smart Communities.
All partners provide premises, co-working spaces, stress test areas and laboratories.
The stakeholder group
In addition to the group of partners, a stakeholder group of 14 other public and private actors was naturally created around CTE NEXT, who with various initiatives decided to support the work of the House of Technology.
Iren, Reale Mutua, Intesa Sanpaolo, Cisco, Sellalab, TOPIx, Leonardo, OGR Torino, Capgemini, Fondazione Digital Innovation Gate421, ST Microelectronics, CFRLab, Fondazione E. Amaldi and Planet Smart City want to actively nurture the project's objectives and disseminate its results, strengthening the position of the City of Turin in the national and international innovation ecosystem.
The future of CTE NEXT
CTE NEXT has three more years of project work ahead of it, which promises to be full of great interest and activity. From 20 to 23 September, ENoLL's international event in Turin, the Open Living Lab Days 2022, co-organised by the House of Emerging Technologies, is scheduled. As many as 400 global innovators are expected at the OGR to discuss open innovation, green transition, and digital transition in the light of emerging technologies.
Autumn 2022 will see the conclusion of the first Digital Magics acceleration course and the launch of the second Call4Testing of the City of Turin, which provides partial reimbursement of the costs of testing innovative urban solutions enabled by 5G and emerging technologies for PA and Industry 4.0. Also starting in October is Talent Garden's Master's course on Business Data Analysis and many other courses activated by universities and CIM4.0 on topics such as the Physical Level of 5G, Product and System Digital Twin, Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
In this year of activity, CTE NEXT has been able to catalyse the dialogue between public and private actors, also targeting access to further European and national funding to support start-up acceleration and technology transfer. It is worth mentioning, for example, the NODES - North West Digital and Sustainable project, financed under the PNRR, with the two Turin universities and other local players as promoters and supported by the City of Turin. The project will bring as much as EUR 110 million to the Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta and some provinces of Lombardy with a focus on the creation of industrial and research supply chains in sectors related to advanced manufacturing.
Also very recent is the news of the allocation to the City of Turin of over EUR 10 million in the context of the second Maas4Italy Public Notice, launched by the Ministry for Digital Transformation, for the value of the PNRR complementary fund. Turin, the first prize-winner, will not only be able to carry out a large-scale experimentation of MaaS services with citizens and users, but will also be able to strengthen the Smart Road strand of the House of Emerging Technologies, thanks to around €7,000,000 dedicated to the co-development and experimentation of innovative solutions for sustainable, connected, autonomous and citizen-friendly mobility in collaboration with the world of research, enterprises and civil society in a 'living lab' perspective.
"We can be more than satisfied with this first year of the House of Emerging Technologies project in Turin," said Councillor for Ecological and Digital Transition, Innovation, Environment, Mobility and Transport, Chiara Foglietta. "We now have another three years ahead of us in which we can really understand the potential of the new emerging technologies enabled by 5G applied to innovative urban services and the other strategic sectors of CTE NEXT, such as smart mobility. Just recently, the City of Turin won the "Maas4Italy" notice thanks to the two "Pilot Maas" and "Living Lab CCam" projects implemented together with 5T, which will access funding of around 10 million euros. Now more than ever is the time to network between all the actors in the area, the various public and private actors, including all the CTE NEXT partners and its stakeholders, to implement coordinated public transport and MaaS initiatives".