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URENIO: Research focus

The research focus of URENIO concerns the innovation-led development of cities and regions and their ability to create environments supporting R&D, human skills, and learning. Interest in the contribution of technological innovation to urban and regional development peaked after 1980 by economic geography research on industrial districts of central Italy, new industrial spaces in the USA, the planning of large technopoles in Japan, and the rise of innovation clusters, learning regions, and regional systems of innovation.

These new forms of agglomeration brought on the surface a series of phenomena with major impact on urban and regional development, such as the geographical concentration of innovative activities, the role of R&D and innovation in competitiveness and growth, the drivers of innovative agglomerations, the new geographical divides and unevenness in terms of knowledge and innovation. Since then, technology and innovation have been a standard point of reference in the development and planning of cities and regions.
The current research emphasis of URENIO is on intelligent cities and innovation ecosystems. Intelligent cities are 3-layer environments of innovation, combining (1) innovative clusters, (2) innovation and technology learning institutions, and (3) digital innovation spaces. Intelligent cities constitute a discrete category of innovation systems created by the agglomeration of creativities within clusters, knowledge and innovation creation mechanisms that operate within cities (technology absorption, creation, dissemination), and digital networks and online services. Their added value stems from the integration of three types of intelligence: human intelligence of the city’s population; collective intelligence of institutions supporting learning and innovation; and artificial intelligence of digital networks and online services, which altogether assure a higher innovation performance of cities and regions.

Main research fields:

  • Innovation clusters development and planning: Development, assessment and planning of innovative agglomerations, technology districts, technopoles, science and technology parks, innovation centres, and incubators.
  • Regional innovation systems and strategies. Knowledge-based urban and regional development. Management of regional systems of innovation. Regional innovation strategies. RIS and RITTS projects. Measuring and benchmarking of innovation performance.
  • Intelligent cities: Design and development of digital innovation environments. Intelligent clusters and technology parks. Living Labs. Intelligent city strategies. Applications for collective intelligence, technology transfer, collaborative new product development, and global product promotion. Innovation ecosystems, smart cities, and the future Internet.


URENIO | Research focus | Research collaboration | Research projects | Virtual innovation environments | Intelligent city platforms | Benchmarking centre | Global watch | People