The Trentino region has a rich, variegated and well-connected innovation ecosystem. Trentino is one of the most relevant examples in Italy of how important it is to invest in innovation and ICT in order to be competitive at the international market. During the last decade or so, Trentino has increasingly specialised in ICT, which has become a very important competitive advantage of the region, granting it the status of the “Italian Silicon Valley.”. Moreover, Trentino has also pushed forward the specialisation in a number of manufacturing sectors related to advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0. Trentino hosts a number of multinational companies that mainly belong to the manufacturing sector such as mechanics or pharmaceutical ones. The region is attractive for multinationals due to its geographical proximity to Austria and Switzerland as well as due to the highly qualified labour as the province of Trento is one of the regions with the highest percentage of population with tertiary education. Moreover, as approximately 160 innovative startups are located in the province of Trento (2018 data), this is the territory with the highest density of innovative startups in Italy.
Several factors have had impact on the success of Trentino in fostering innovation. The local administration, as opposed to the rest of the country, has provided a set of economic concessions for companies and a series of investments in innovative start-ups. Moreover, the speed of decision-making processes is much faster due to the status of the Autonomous Province. According to ISPAT, Trentino has a very high number of employees active in research and development: 7.6 per thousand inhabitants, compared to 5 in Lombardy, 4.3 in Italy and 5.7 in the European Union (average). The province possesses the strong research capacity thanks to a number of public and semi-public research institutions such as the University of Trento, the Foundation Bruno Kessler, and the Edmund Mach Foundation. The University of Trento is a key catalyst of innovation in the region due to the research excellence of its departements as well as other its other structures such as the School of Innovation, CLab Trento and Eit Digital. As a result of the research quality, the number of spin-off is increasing in Trentino. However, although the public R&D expenditure is above the Italian average, private R&D investments are relatively low and this is one of the main weaknesses of the system. In addition to the education and research institutions, there is number of other actors that foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the region such as Hub Innovazione Trentino (HIT) and Trentino Sviluppo. HIT aims at promoting the results of scientific research in Trentino through technology transfer activities to private companies and investors as well as at supporting stakeholders and Trentino companies in innovation processes and internationalisation in national and European networks. Trentino Sviluppo is a company established by the Autonomous Province of Trento to foster the sustainable growth of the “Trentino system” by developing actions and services aimed at supporting the creation of new entrepreneurial and innovation projects.