The Mechatronics District of Puglia: the Role of the Authorities

Taking into consideration the struggles of Southern Italy’s economy, which has barely benefited from growth seen elsewhere in Italy over recent years, the performance of Puglia’s mechatronics district, which has not only equalled, but out-performed national figures, with exports up by 15% in 2017, is well worth further investigation.

Among the ingredients in this success is a strongly developed relationship between technical high schools and locally based companies, innovation being supported by public funding and the impetus created by the presence of multi-nationals that have been part of the industrial landscape in this region for many decades.

Bari Politecnico University is a well rooted centre of academic excellence that now boasts recognition from international rating agencies like U-Multirank which, on behalf of the European Union, classifies 850 university courses across over 70 countries. Bari Politecnico is undoubtedly the guiding light for industrial mechatronics in the region. It has achieved excellence in its industrial research concerning mechatronics, energy, aerospace, Industry 4.0 technology and sustainable development. The Bari Politecnico has a regular and continuative synergic relationship with industrial partners and is engaged in Joint Lab projects, a virtuous example of collaboration between academic research and industry. In addition to this, its Mechanics, Mathematics and Management department (DMMM) has received the prestigious recognition of “department of excellence” from the Italian ministry of Education for the five year 2018-2023 period. Research is carried out in tandem with the most important industrial players in the region.

The DMMM is also part of the Competence Center network as stipulated by the National Industry 4.0 plan for the promotion and development of 4.0 technologies. Within this framework a special mention must also go to the Cuccovillo technical institute in Bari which works in close collaboration with companies in the mechatronics district, thereby guaranteeing real work opportunities for its students with employment rates for school leavers hitting 90%.
In terms of its policies for economic and social cohesion, Puglia benefits from a regional operative plan, co-financed by the European regional development fund and the European social fund, which enjoys a total backing of €7.1bn, half of which comes through European sources.

According to European commission data, updated in December 2017, 35% of resources being used are in research projects, with one company in three in the mechanical sector, and half of total investment made by foreign companies.
For the next issue I’m pleased to cede the floor to Marco Turconi, Director of the Industrial Metrology Division at Carl Zeiss.