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Trentino: Higher Education and Research in a nutshell



Perched near the Austrian border, the Autonomous Province of Trento (P.A.T.), is one of the two provinces of the Trentino – Alto Adige / Südtirol Autonomous Region in the Italian Alps. Trentino’s special Statute of Autonomy – in effect since 1948 – grants the Autonomous Province direct legislative, administrative and financial jurisdiction in fundamental areas, including education, health, industrial policy, transport, the University and tourism.

Trentino is a relatively small territory that has been capable of creating an effectively integrated education-research-innovation system, turning into a real large scale ” research and knowledge hub”: the interaction between the public sector and local stakeholders is —without a doubt— close and effective, key players from the business collaborate to develop innovative projects, and the knowledge triangle is further enriched by the direct involvement of end users.

Over the last forty years, the province has indeed set out clearly articulated goals accompanied by a forward-thinking and long-term policy vision, investing in higher education and earmarking more and more of its research and development money for projects close and attentive to the needs of the territory and linked to improving the quality of life of its inhabitants, from social services to environment. The target vision was to transform Trentino into a real “Living Lab”, further reinforcing quality and internationalisation and capable of attracting highly appreciated scientists but also private R&D investors and partners, such as, among others, Microsoft, Telecom Italia, IBM, FIAT.


Against this background, Trentino has become an internationally recognized reference point for the most well-established international research bodies: more than 20 public and private research institutes and spin-off companies, an independent top ranking university as well as more than 3,500 researchers (the ratio between the number of inhabitants and the number of researchers is one of the highest in Italy) purses cutting-edge research in areas as diverse as, for example, key enabling technologies (ICT), materials studies, neuroscience, nanotechnology, genomics, agrofood, environmental sciences, as well as social, economics and humanities studies.

In this context the Autonomous Province of Trento has the function of coordination between those promoting and those making use of scientific research, seen as essential and inalienable for the pursuit of its statutory and institutional objectives. The Department of Knowledge at PAT is, among other things, responsible for the strengthening, enhancement and modernisation of the research, educational, cultural and the scholar system in the province. Since 2003 the PAT has also been carrying out a Research Mobility programme, which started with the first call for proposals for incoming research postdocs and was implemented in 2006 with the call for proposals for Research Teams. PAT is also currently running the project “Trentino – The Trentino programme of research, training and mobility of post-doctoral researchers” (2009-2014), aimed at fostering the trans-national mobility of Italian and foreign researchers, within the context of the COFUND Marie Curie Actions of the 7th Framework Programme for Research.


Research capacity — Main strategic actors

Trentino Research System

Trentino Research System

Over its 50 years of history, the University of Trento (16.000 students and about 600 professors and researchers) has been indeed known for its commitment towards international relations and mobility and for the quality of its research and education offerings. These features have led the University of Trento to reach prominent positions in national and international university rankings.
Among the Trentino public research institutes we can mention the Bruno Kessler Foundation (FBK), where 400 researchers work on forefront projects as varied as technological development and humanities studies, ranging, for examples, from Information Technology, Materials and Microsystems to Italian-German Historical studies, and Religious studies.

The University and FBK have founded Trento RISE Association —which transfer ICT research to the market, offering technical, strategic and financial support— and they started the Italian partnership initiative EIT ICT Labs initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, which brings together the major powers of the European research and industry in the field of ICT. At Trento Rise is located the Italian EIT ICT Labs center, where there are collaborating the industrial partners like Telecom Italia and Engineering and the others industrial and academy partners.

Know today as Edmund Mach Foundation, the Agricultural Institute of San Michele all´Adige carries out cutting-edge  studies and innovations in the fields of agriculture, nutrition, and environment, with the aim to generate new sharing knowledge and to contribute to economic growth, social development and the overall improvement of quality of life.

Opened in late July 2013, the science museum MUSE – hosted in a brand new building designed by worldwide renowned architect Renzo Piano – was welcomed by international professionals and public as a novelty in the field thanks to its innovative museological concept.


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