Mountains: Living Labs for the ecological and digital transition

The project “Mountains: Living Labs of innovation for the ecological and digital transition” intends to capitalise on the significant experiences acquired, strengthening the already numerous synergies, alliances and networks between national and international university institutions, public and private bodies in charge of governance and value creation in mountain territories, in order to implement and promote research, experimentation, technology transfer, training and support projects for place-based territorial institutions that outline the path towards a possible research infrastructure, i.e. an international platform capable of accompanying mountain territories towards new and specific development processes in a continuous and integrated way.

The project is inserted in the framework of the main international, European and national policy lines. From the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development approved by the United Nations, with its Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030, as regards the concrete definition of new development models that are sustainable in their three dimensions – environmental, economic and social – to the European Green Deal and the 9th European Framework Programme for R&I 21-27 “Horizon Europe”, which aims to improve the well-being of citizens and make Europe climate neutral by 2050, the European Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the aforementioned European cohesion policies and, at national level, the SNAI, and the strategy for green communities, which aims to enhance rural and mountain territories that intend to make balanced use of their main resources.

UNIMONT in this project proposes itself as an agent of change able to promote effective interaction between the actors of the quadruple helix for local development through innovation, to test and promote in a concrete way the adoption of sustainable models in fragile territories with unexpressed potential, a platform able to favour and guarantee over time the connection between the different levels, from the territory to the regional, national and European dimension, in the framework of system policies for innovation, development and competitiveness so that the territories are really the protagonists and beneficiaries of the spin-offs of the processes undertaken

Project Objectives
  • To strengthen research and technology transfer activities aimed at preserving biodiversity and, at the same time, increasing the production potential of quality goods and services of high economic value linked to the local genetic resources (landraces) specific to Italian mountain territories, also by activating citizen science initiatives;
  • To codify processes accompanying local administrations and communities towards a sustainable use of resources, the organisation of innovative services based on new technologies, improving the quality of the environment, of life and of development opportunities, in order to facilitate the ecological and fair transition processes envisaged by the EU Green deal;
  • To strengthen the training offer aimed at creating new and specific skills and qualifying professional profiles able to accompany territories in the definition and management of development projects based on innovation and responding to local needs and specificities, as well as in finding and managing funding through participation in regional, national and European calls for proposals;
  • To promote specific third mission activities favouring the spill-over of knowledge and the active collaboration between actors of the quadruple helix for the development of mountain areas through innovation, favouring the coordination of research for the development of mountain territories at national and European level, strengthening the network of national and international stakeholders and shared actions, towards an international platform for the development of mountain areas.
Expected Results
  • Implementation of research activities on Agrobiodiversity – a flywheel for the valorisation of mountain territories, resulting in the acquisition of new knowledge on the heritage of biodiversity of agronomic interest still present in the Italian mountains, to be mapped and characterised in order to
    • enrich the National Agrobiodiversity Register- (Ministerial Decree 39407/2019) and the national geo-referenced map developed by UNIMONT (;
    • contribute to biodiversity conservation;
    • identify and characterise raw materials for short and typical products and supply chains with a strong territorial connotation, capable of strengthening, reactivating or creating economic circuits also connected with gastronomic and slow tourism;
    • contribute to the identification of local genotypes useful for genetic improvement programmes and the selection of resistant varieties capable of adapting to climate change, which are important for the competitiveness of the entire agricultural sector;
    • contribute to the identification and development of new products for the agri-food, health/medicinal, industrial and other sectors;
    • enhance citizen science initiatives to involve farmers, producers and citizens in a process of co-creation and exchange;
  • Definition of protocols aimed at certifying the assumption of practices consistent with the sustainable use and valorisation of local resources also through the definition and acquisition of specific “labels” and participation in international processes, facilitating the transition of rural and mountain areas towards the “green community” strategy;
  • Definition of new and specific training paths for the training of professionals capable of operating and affecting the socio-economic fabric of mountain areas, accompanying them towards development paths, designing and managing innovative interventions to meet specific needs and operationally connecting local realities with higher organisational and territorial levels, up to the European dimension, for “fund raising”, exchange of good practices and collaboration;
  • Strengthening of the stakeholders’ network, of communication and dissemination initiatives and of the coordination of research and innovation activities for the development of mountain areas, both in the national and international dimension for the definition of an integrated and shared coordination platform.

Start Year
End Year
Funding Body
MUR - Fondo di Finanziamento Ordinario (FFO) delle Università Statali per l’anno 2020
UNIMONT – Centro di Eccellenza dell'Università degli Studi di Milano
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