Italy, China launch strategic 'innovation alliance'

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, November 9, 2010
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Italy and China launched on Monday a strategic "innovation alliance" aimed at boosting technological exchange and joint research in crucial sectors including health, energy and "e-government."

The Italy-China Innovation Forum, which stood as the first major event for the one-year celebrations of the Chinese Culture Year in Italy marking the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, was a great opportunity to foster contacts between Chinese and Italian entrepreneurs and pave way for a strengthened bilateral cooperation.

The key message of the forum was the need both China and Italy shared to cooperate in innovation and technology, stretching from health to "e-government," renewable energy and energy efficiency, high-quality design and information and communication technology ( ICT).

Organizers of the meeting were Italian Innovation Minister Renato Brunetta, Chinese Minister for Science and Technology Wan Gang and Italy's major industrial association, Confindustria.

In front of 250 Italian industrials and 100 Chinese businessmen and institution representatives, Minister Brunetta proposed to launch an "innovation alliance" from which both countries could benefit.

"Innovation curbs bureaucracy, allows direct access to services on internet and simplifies administrative procedures," he said, suggesting its revolutionary power in increasing a country's global competitiveness and well-being.

At the forum Brunetta announced the launch of an important agreement between Italy's Innovation Agency and Beijing's Science and Technology Commission aimed at creating an Italy-China center for technological transfer which will focus on stimulating contacts between scientific parks, technological districts and small enterprises of both countries.

The minister recalled the 250 Italian innovation projects showcased at the Shanghai Expo, stressing the importance for Italy 's small and medium enterprises to "exchange knowledge and technology" with Chinese counterparts.

Confindustria's deputy president Diana Bracco said Italy was looking forward to further boosting cooperation and trade with China especially in the fields of innovation and research.

"We can be privileged partners in such strategic areas because we all know that only those countries able to master technology will secure for themselves a long-standing economic growth and a sustainable and wide-spread well-being," she said.

Bracco observed that innovation was radically transforming industry thanks to the rise of nanotechnologies, new materials, biotechnology and electronics, and that most enterprises had understood innovation's strategic role in promoting development on a global scale.

"In the next 5 to 10 years all productive areas will face an upheaval: technology will allow integration between different sectors and increase competition," she said.

According to the European Commission's vice president Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, what China mainly demands of Italy is cooperation in design and quality.

"If Minister Wan Gang stresses the important issues of design and quality, it means that the Chinese market especially requires this kind of Italian innovation and we must therefore increase investments in these sectors," he added.

But there are many other potential areas on which to focus the Italy-China innovation cooperation. Four parallel thematic panels were held to discuss possible partnerships in digital health systems, ICT, "e-government" and alternative energy sources.

Ennio Lucarelli of Confindustria said the enormous business opportunities Italian firms had in China with regard to e-health and "e-government" projects, where Italy was a global leader.

The Italy-China Innovation Forum was the first event listed in the protocol signed during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Rome in October to boost bilateral ties.

Other than the Italy-China center for technological transfer presented by Brunetta, the protocol also envisaged the creation of the Italy-China center for high-quality design, which aims to support cultural exchange on intellectual property rights for the global benefit and competition of both countries, and the Italy- China center for "e-government" on joint research projects for digitalizing public administration.

The head of the Italy-China Foundation Cesare Romiti, responsible for creating business contacts between Chinese and Italian firms, also took part in the forum.

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