Lombardy is in the heart of Europe and at the crossroads between the major East-West and North-South communication routes, from the Iberian peninsula to the Balkans, and Northern Europe to the Mediterranean.

Lombardy is the Italian region with the highest concentration of people, businesses and wealth: the region represents 15.6% of the overall national population, with a demographic profile that has 24% of the population under the age of 25 and 17. 4% over 65. Lombardy is one of the most densely populated regions in Italy and the province of Milano has a residential density 5 times higher than the average for Lombardy and 10 times higher than the average for Italy.

The Lombardy region is a regional authority working in the fields of research, business support, technology transfer and advanced training. This institution recognizes the importance of human capital for the growth and the enhancement of the society. It also fosters research-based partnerships between scientific institutions at local, national and international levels to improve research and innovation, as well as the technological level of the productive system.

The region prides itself on its primacy in the research and innovation sector.

It is a key player with regard to research and technological developments related to space and a national leader in the research sector, accounting for 12 universities, 1 institute for advanced studies and more than 630 research and technologic transfer registered on the QuESTIO system. QuESTIO (Quality Evaluation in Science and Technology for Innovation Opportunity  is a mapping and accreditation instrument implemented by the Region for opportunities in the field of innovation, R&D and transfers of technology.(www.questio.it).

More than 30% of the high-tech patents recently registered to the EPO by Italian subjects come from the Lombardy region and the annual expenditure for research and development activities carried out by enterprises, public entities, private entities and universities accounts for 21.5% of the national expenditure in R&D.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) with 1500 employees, located in Ispra, Provincia di Varese, dedicates most of its activity to environment and security with an extensive use of space data. The IREA institute (NEREUS Associate Member), one of the departments of the National Council of Research (CNR) dedicated to remote sensing, has its headquarters in Milan. A number of universities pursue research in space-related matters, e.g. Politecnico di Milano having a world-wide reputation in this field.

The region has cooperation agreements and declarations of intention with more than 20 international bodies, signed with other Italian Regions and research bodies. Recently, a framework agreement of collaboration with the Lombard university system was signed in July 2009 (source: “Aggiornamento dello Scoreboard Regionale dell’Innovazione”, IReR, 2009). There are 11 centres of excellence promoted in the region and hundreds of entities involved in cooperation actions and relations at regional, national and international level. A member of the World Regions Forum and of the 4 Motors for Europe, the Lombardy region participates in several networks and European projects in the chemical, aerospace and energy sectors. Following the IReR A3T research, which analysed the most promising technological sectors in Lombardy, 4 main areas were identified: Food, Energy/Environment, Health and Advanced Manufacturing. The regional strategy focuses on its strength in different fields – biotechnologies, health, aerospace, food- and hosts 4 clusters/districts officially recognised by the Ministry of Education, University and Research: biotechnologies, new materials, ICT and food.

To make the territory more competitive, measures to enhance R&I in an entrepreneurial and scientific context, infrastructural actions and initiatives to promote human capital have been promoted.

The regional strategy on University and Research aims to respond better to its complex research system, which is multi-disciplinary and is characterized by a multitude of SMEs with high technological value.