A three-year framework agreement was signed between the University of Bologna and BI-REX, the first Competence Center in Italy able to equip itself with its own Pilot Line, a digital factory in which Industry 4.0 technologies integrate with traditional ones. The collaboration with the Center of Competence based in Bologna provides for the joint development of innovation activities, technology dissemination and training aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, in addition to collaboration on 15 initiatives and programs within Horizon Europe.

Over the next three years it is planned to implement guidance and training initiatives aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, namely seminars, webinars, workshops, round tables and courses designed by BI-REX staff and Alma Mater teachers. The implementation of innovation, demonstration, industrial research and experimental development projects, proposed by companies, also in collaborative form, and technology transfer services in Industry 4.0 are also planned. Finally, Alma Mater and BI-REX will be partners in attracting competitive funding, promoting and facilitating joint participation in research and innovation tenders and programs, in particular in Europe.

For the past two years BI-REX (Big Data Innovation & Research Excellence) has been active, a public-private partnership of 44 companies and 12 universities / research bodies and a consortium also financed by MISE as part of the National Industry 4.0 Plan, the conception of which and constitution was led by the University of Bologna. BI-REX now represents a strategic partner for the University for many innovation and training initiatives aimed in particular at the world of small and medium-sized enterprises.

During 2020 BI-REX continued the issuance of calls for the selection of technological innovation projects on MISE co-financing: in May the second call was published, with a budget of 1.2M, which closed in July with the funding of 7 projects, 3 of which see the participation of the University of Bologna, in 2 with the role of scientific coordination.

In the spring / summer of 2020, dissemination and training activities were launched, in particular the University of Bologna contributed to 5 webinars of technology dissemination and awareness raising on trends and technologies and to 3 training courses for company employees.

In September, the University and BI-REX collaborated in the presentation to MISE of the proposal of the European Digital Innovation Hub, which was the first step for the similar call by the European Commission currently open, and will create the conditions for projecting the University and Competence Center towards the European funding program Digital Europe.

On 27 October 2020, the Pilot Line was inaugurated, a Smart Factory designed and built at the center to support the processes of technological innovation and digitalization of companies, for whose design the contribution of the University of Bologna was of fundamental importance.