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CDA Online-Interview with Prof. Sergio Cavalieri

Vice-Chancellor for Innovation and Technology-Transfer, University of Bergamo, Lombardy/Italy


Against the backdrop of Germany's EU Council Presidency 2020 having started on 1 July CDA focuses its analyses on the status quo of innovation and technology collaboration between EU Member States and PR China. Since May 2015 Italy's government has adopted a national strategy for bilateral Sino-Italian science and technology collaboration. With regard to managing the nation-wide initiatives with Chinese counterparts in research and industry University of Bergamo plays a leading role in the national Italian network. In this interview with CDA Vice-Chancellor for Innovation and Technology-Transfer, Prof. Sergio Cavalieri, talks about the status-quo of Italy's cooperation with China and his expectations on European level.


CDA: Just recently on 3rd June the Chinese Minister of Science and Technology, Wang Zhigang, and his Italian Colleague Minister Gaetano Manfredi gave online keynote speeches at the opening ceremony of the China Italy Joint Lab on Advanced Manufacturing. Which are the main strategic goals in this cooperation with Tsinghua University, China's leading technical research institution?


Sergio Cavalieri: The China-Italy Joint Laboratory on Advanced Manufacturing (CI-LAM) represents the main collaboration platform between China & Italy innovation ecosystems in the field of advanced manufacturing. It is promoted, from Italian side, by the University of Bergamo, University of Naples Federico II and its incubator, Campania NewSteel, and, from Chinese side, by Tsinghua University and China Sci-Tech Automation Alliance.


Mission of CI-LAM is to promote and enhance the results of a joint cutting-edge research and development collaboration within the field of Smart Manufacturing, including mutual technology transfer, demonstrative applications and commercialisation, with a win-win approach.


CI-LAM has been recognized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy as the main strategic bilateral platform on Intelligent Manufacturing in the “Italy-China S&T Cooperation, Action Plan towards 2025”.


The CI-LAM pools the resources of start-ups, enterprises, universities, research institutions and consulting companies to carry out application-oriented R&D and product innovation, helping manufacturing enterprises in both countries – Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups in particular – adopt the new industrial paradigms and embrace key enabling technologies, and promoting matchmaking activities inside.


The Joint Laboratory addresses the future challenges in manufacturing and carries out innovation in standards and interoperability, working with the international organisation for standardisation. Furthermore, the CI-LAM organises training, exchange and mobility programs for students, academics and professionals.


CDA: University of Bergamo is one of the main players in managing the implementation of Italy's national "Sino-Italian Strategic Plan for Cooperation in Science and Technology". Which were the main programs, events and operational structures in 2019 to facilitate and nurture the partnership with China in innovation, technology-transfer and entrepreneurship?


Sergio Cavalieri: Within the CI-LAM we have promoted several seminars and a summer school for students which was held in Naples with the collaboration of Tsinghua University, University of Naples and University of Bergamo. Moreover, as representative of the Italian Technological Cluster of Intelligent Manufacturing Systems, I was personally asked to organise a special session on the bilateral relations between China and Italy on manufacturing systems and to hold a key note speech at the Science and Innovation week which was held late November 2019 in Beijing and Jinan.


From the operational point of view, we are assisting start ups and academic spin-offs from both countries in matchmaking sessions in order to raise their international level and offering students the possibility to spend an internship period in the two countries in order to foster the collaboration and the potential of exchange between the two countries.


CDA: The Covid-19 pandemic hit Italy very hard with regards to economy and society with an epicentre in Lombardy, one of Europe's most vibrant and successful regional economies. Did the pandemic have an effect on the nature and focus of the Sino-Italian innovation and technology cooperation especially in the field of digital transformation?


Sergio Cavalieri: Unfortunately, given the shock produced at the local level on the economy and society in our region, and in particular in the Bergamo area, we had to replan all our activities, including the collaboration with China. What we are actually working is at the moment to keep on with relations between the universities and research centres by organising thematic webinars for professionals, with the participation of start-ups, and a virtual summer school for students from all over Italian universities and the involvement of Chinese universities.


CDA: What would you expect from the new European Commission and the German EU Council Presidency with regard to the development of Sino-European relations in the field of science, technology, innovation (STI) and knowledge/technology transfer against the backdrop of the Sino-Italian experiences in recent years?


Sergio Cavalieri: My personal hope is that at the European level all the bilateral experiences at regional level with China could be networked in order to have a common strategic platform and policy towards our Chinese interlocutors. Our experiences in the last years is that if we operate on a singular basis, we are not able to have the critical mass and the sustainability to operate with such relevant counterpart. Putting together platforms as ours with other national experiences would reinforce our message and strategic cooperation with China.


Sergio Cavalieri is Vice-chancellor for Technology Transfer, Innovation and Valorisation of Research at University of Bergamo, member of the Board of Directors of U4I – University for Innovation, representative of UNIBG at the Digital Innovation Hub Bergamo, past Director of SdM – School of Management.


Regarding his research interests, he is responsible of CELS - Research Group on Industrial Systems Engineering, Logistics and Service Operations - at the Department of Management, Information and Production Engineering. CELS carries out studies, research and technology transfer projects in the fields of Supply Chain Management, Service Chain Management and Industrial Asset Management.


He is President of the Italian Association of Professors in Industrial Systems Engineering, Director of MeGMI – Executive Master on Industrial Asset Management promoted by SdM – School of Management and MIP – Politecnico di Milano, member of IFAC-TC 5.1 on Advanced Manufacturing Technology, member of IFIP WG 5.7, former member of the Technical Development Steering Committee of the Supply Chain Council, founder and coordinator of the Service Management Forum, a joint industry-academic initiative.