For businesses which are interested in establishing production units in Sicily, and in particular in the Etna Valley, the following are considered some of the most important competitive advantages:
- funding tools for the creation of partnerships with foreign businesses in order to create cooperation and production development;
- subsidized funding and incentives for investment and the employment of new staff;
- skilled labour force;
- ongoing research and innovation with respect to processes and products;
- high international profile;
- high propensity to register patents.
It is also interesting to note that in October 2003, the University of Catania and
Sviluppo Italia Sicilia S.p.A, formed the Consorzio MedSpin - Mediterranean
Consortium for Spin-offs in High Technology - in order to create a technological
incubator for businesses in the Catania district.
In April 2004, MedSpin began the SpinLAB project to provide the technological incubator which Catania's economy required. Medspin has also established numerous collaborative partnerships with other businesses in the ICT sector overseas (with which they have presented collaborative projects) in addition to other public and private institutions, research organizations and universities, with which they carry out work of great relevance and interest to the sector.
The Ministry for Economic Development has recently approved a further three-year Consorzio project called StarNET, the natural evolution and expansion of the MedSpin incubator, using the design and development of a networked incubator. This will involve the participation of the Benevento Research Body, the University of Sannio, the University Biomedic Campus in Rome and Sviluppo Italia Friuli Venezia Giulia.
The aim of the project is to create a "community of knowledge" which, using the MedSpin incubator as a spring board in the academic spin-offs field, together with tried and tested models which were successful in the Catania area, is able to transfer and share best practices with other partners in the knowledge and innovation network, and develop its own new practices.
This will come about by pooling the knowledge and experience of the organizations involved, with the ultimate aim of promoting the creation of new businesses in the ICT, biotechnology and biomedic technologies sectors.
The most active network organizations in the field of research are listed below:
- Università degli Studi di Catania
- INFN - Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (National Nuclear Physics Institute)
- Istituto per la Microelettronica e Microsistemi del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems)
- Consorzio Catania Ricerche (Cantania Research Council)
- Superlab - Laboratorio per lo studio delle Superfici dei Materiali (Laboratory for the Study of Material Surfaces)
- Parco Scientifico e Tecnologico della Sicilia (Sicily Science and Technology Park)
- INGV - Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (National Geophysics and Vulcanology Institute)
- INAF - Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania (Catania Astrophysics Observatory)
- Media Innovation Relay Centre