The Innovation Hub and the Lombardia Region host the National Innovation Prize in Milano on November 30th and December 1st.

The innovation of ideas continues with the Premio Nazioneale per l’Innovazione (PNI). This year, MUSA and the Lombardia Region will host and organize the 21st edition of the national competition involving winners from regional start-up challenges on November 30th and December 1st in Milano (as pictured are the winners of the 2022 edition, credits: la Repubblica). This success is renewed year after year, thanks to the commitment of PNICube, the Italian Association of Universities, Academic Incubators, and Regional Start Cup, founded in 2003 with the mission of promoting entrepreneurial valorization of research through a broad and innovative entrepreneurial path, both locally and nationally, with researchers and university students as protagonists. The innovation sectors, defined in the PNI Regulation, encompass four award categories: “Cleantech & Energy,” “Life Sciences-MED Tech,” “ICT,” and “Industrial.”

Archygram is the latest success story of this virtuous project: the winner of the 20th edition in 2022, the StartCup Lombardia company has created a web app based on AI that automates architectural surveying and classification using smartphone images. The mission? To revolutionize the work of engineers, architects, and surveyors with AI-based software that automates the most labor-intensive aspect of a project: architectural surveying and classification. Simply by taking photos of a building with a phone and uploading them to the platform, you can obtain the building’s drawing, complete with measurements and information needed for the designer within a few hours.

Among the innovative entities awarded in the last edition were BiStems (StartCup Liguria), a startup that developed an oxygen-steam gasification technology suitable for small-scale advanced biofuel production, winning the Industrial prize; AraBat (StartCup Puglia), crowned by Iren Cleantech & Energy for its idea of recycling exhausted lithium batteries and recovering their precious metals through orange peels. Lastly, Iriant (StartCup Campania), a small molecule of the new generation, excelling in the Life Sciences-MedTech category, capable of countering the effects of Diabetic Retinopathy developed by the IRIDEA startup. These virtuous projects won the 25,000 euro prize, showcasing the entrepreneurial culture fostered by the initiative bridging the gap between research and the market.

The PNI competition features the best hi-tech business projects that have won in the 15 regional competitions (StartCup), involving 53 universities, incubators, and research institutions in 16 regions of Italy, in 2022, over 3,000 new entrepreneurs participated with nearly 1,000 business ideas and over 400 business plans. The winners were selected from among the 65 finalist startups by a Jury composed of representatives from the entrepreneurial world, research, and venture capital, based on criteria such as the value of technological or knowledge content, technical feasibility, development potential, adequacy of team skills, and market attractiveness. Over the years, PNI has selected and supported 964 startups, about 50 per year, connecting local networks, public entities, investors, local businesses, and member universities.

Unique in Italy and Europe, the PNICube network currently has 53 members, including universities, academic incubators, and other innovation and entrepreneurship promotion organizations, involving 17 Italian regions through 16 regional Start Cup competitions. Its primary objective is to promote the creation and development of knowledge-intensive and socially impactful businesses for sustainable progress.

The OCSE has recognized PNICube as a best practice for regional and Italian development, precisely for its ability to network local networks involving collaboration between universities, businesses, investors, and public administrations (Report 2019, Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Higher Education in Italy).

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