Experimentation, attention to the environment and ethical technologies: these are the keywords of CTE Next, the House of Emerging Technologies of Turin, Italy, born two years ago out of the will of the City of Turin, followed by an aggregation of 12 public and private partners - including I3P, the Innovative Companies Incubator of Politecnico di Torino - which won the Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy's 13 million euro tender to set up a widespread technology transfer centre on emerging technologies linked to 5G in strategic sectors for the area.
CTE Next today is a living, visible community, recognisable in its widespread and always open hubs, where aspiring entrepreneurs and companies, mostly start-ups and SMEs, co-develop, together with public administration (PA) and research actors, innovative technological solutions to improve everyday life in the cities of the future.
The numbers of the project
Attention and participation in CTE Next activities is growing, even from abroad:
- 20,000 visits from unique users on the website;
- 2,800 participants in the more than 80 events organised;
- 500 active enterprises;
- 200 people trained;
- 100 services provided, with a strong focus on support for the testing of 5G solutions;
- 20 stakeholders, corporate and otherwise, accompanying and enhancing the opportunities of CTE Next, giving rise to B2B collaborations and joint trials.
The feature that characterises Turin's House of Technology, and distinguishes it on a national level, is in fact the so-called Urban Testing, i.e. the programme supporting field trials in real city situations of emerging technologies enabled by 5G in a wide range of sectors, from terrestrial and air mobility to Industry 4.0, passing through the wide range of urban services.
"I am very happy to celebrate together with the entire Turin innovation system the two-year anniversary of our House," emphasised Chiara Foglietta, City of Turin's Councillor for Innovation. "As the Department of Innovation, in recent years we have given an important emphasis to the CTE Next project towards climate change and the ethics of technology. In particular, in the latest Call4Testing, environmental experiments related to mobility and energy efficiency have become central. At the same time, we have just launched a Call2Action addressed to local companies for the start-up of the community '100 Climate Neutral Cities by 2030' so that companies and start-ups can contribute, together with the City and CTE Next, to the achievement of the 'zero CO2' objective by 2030, as desired by the European Commission's 'NetZeroCities' Mission, which sees Turin as a protagonist of change towards a more sustainable Europe."
In these two years, no fewer than 30 experiments have been carried out in the real environment with marketable solutions. Five Proof-of-Concepts, i.e. the areas of applied research on which the CTE partners have converged their expectations, skills, interests and their own development activities in the field, in areas ranging from enabling urban corridors for drones to the development and integration of new functions in the smart road infrastructure, up to the prototyping of futuristic virtual learning environments in metaverse linked to the city's museums and capable of creating bridges between the virtual and the real for Turin's students. All of this will also challenge the city and its partners on the administrative innovation front and lead to the opening of dialogue with the relevant national authorities, prefiguring "sandbox-type" environments, i.e., selected and controlled test environments, where current regulations can be waived or eased, with the aim of making the generation of innovative solutions in new user scenarios smoother and faster.
Seven were the winning companies of the recently concluded Call4Testing Future City, with a total budget of around 490,000 euro and a non-repayable contribution of around 70,000 euro for each, to accelerate the development and testing of as many new urban solutions, some also in response to challenges launched by CTE Next's corporate stakeholders.
The innovative solutions for the city
These solutions, which will be tested shortly in Turin, include:
- Midori, Midori, a Turin-based startup 'graduated' in I3P, which proposes an experimental project to demonstrate the use of IoT and Artificial Intelligence technologies to promote the reduction of energy impact, through raising awareness on consumption and optimising the use of renewable sources, a challenge shared with the Planet Smart City stakeholder;
- QuestIT, an innovative SME proposing the development of an avatar able to 'talk' with citizens with hearing disabilities in the context of real-time emergency services, a challenge launched by Azienda31-Regione Piemonte;
- Synesthesia, which proposes an innovative and sustainable alternative for logistics and delivery management in urban areas through the use of autonomous robots;
- Sma-RTY, which aims to test and validate an innovative system, based on 5G and Artificial Intelligence technologies, for assisting and supporting vehicle driving;
- Lifetouch, offering real-world testing of MOVEO, an autonomous self-driving vehicle for last-mile logistics;
- Stendhapp, an innovative start-up with a social vocation, proposes to test in Turin an application capable of suggesting events and cultural venues nearby, based on real-time user behaviour and image recognition using machine learning (ML);
- Darts Engineering, which proposes the testing in an urban environment of a novel service for forecasting and informing of hazards caused by adverse conditions on the safety of people moving and vehicles in transit in urban smart roads through the combined use of IoT, 5G and Cooperative ITS technologies.
This unique wealth of knowledge and expertise has led CTE Next to an important reflection on future developments. Indeed, a special focus is placed on climate change issues. In particular, the experiments carried out with CTE Next take the form of a true implementation tool for the climate neutrality commitment to be achieved by 2030, demonstrating the transformative contribution of emerging technologies and stimulating joint actions with partners and stakeholders in this direction.
The strand defined 'Ethics & Inclusion' is also being strengthened, i.e. the focus on a responsible use of technologies, providing analysis and comparison tools to investigate the ethical profiles of the proposed solutions (starting with those using artificial intelligence), foreseeing and mitigating the negative effects on the lives of citizens and users; as well as the ability of the projects of supported companies to generate a positive impact in terms of diversity, inclusion and accessibility.
It is also intended to support, in liaison with the Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy, the development of CTE Next's internationalisation processes, with a view to promoting the community's enterprises on an international scale and fostering the exportation abroad of the 'Turin model' of 'intelligent community' - shared by corporate stakeholders - while also favouring the attraction of talent and companies from abroad, in order to make the Turin area increasingly generative of ideas, relations and opportunities for all.
Finally, on the strength of the skills and results generated, the third year of operation of the House will be the occasion to launch an education programme open to the youngest (from primary to high school) thanks to an integrated training offer by partners and stakeholders capable of combining transversal skills for entrepreneurship, technological literacy linked to emerging tech, and an understanding of its use and benefits for urban living, also through visits to symbolic places and dialogue with businesses in the community.
The players involved
The event held for CTE Next's second birthday was moderated by Fabio De Ponte, RAI journalist, and attended by Pietro Pacini, Director General of CSI Piemonte, followed by Chiara Foglietta, Councillor of the City of Turin for Ecological and Digital Transition, Innovation, Environment, Mobility and Transport, Marco Landi, President of QuestIT, and Atlantis Venture, who gave a keynote speech on the future of Artificial Intelligence in the European ecosystem.
Then two round tables: the first one was dedicated to "Two years of CTE Next: results, impacts and perspectives on urban innovation and 5G" with Elena Deambrogio, Head of the CTE Next project, Laura Morgagni, CEO of Fondazione Piemonte Innova, and Gabriele Elia, Head of Technology Communication & Standardization at TIM. The second round table tackled the topic of "Challenges and opportunities of emerging technologies" with Francesco Meneghetti, CEO and Co-Founder of Fabbrica Digitale, Marina Geymonat, Head of Enterprise Data AI and Analytics at Capgemini Invent, Alessandro Goia, Global Head of Innovation at Planet Smart City, and Eugenia Forte, Manager of the aerospace accelerator TakeOff, where new innovative trends were analysed, such as AI for urban CERs (Energy Communities) and the steps for the internationalisation of a startup.
In the second part of the event, an Innovation Experience was also held: five companies that have collaborated with the House were presented and let those present experience their technologies/prototypes. They were:
- ABZero, with its drone equipped with Smart Capsules for transporting blood and organs;
- Kineton and its Kinecar, an innovative minicar linking media and automotive;
- Impersive and technology for the production of stereoscopic immersive 360° subjective dynamic experiences, unique in the international landscape;
- Open Stage and touring stages around the city on which artists can book themselves via app;
- UTwin, innovative start-up incubated at I3P, which has created a digital twin of the Pestalozzi public school in Turin.