BI-REX is the first national Competence Center with its own functioning and operational Pilot Plant: with the inauguration of the Smart Factory, which took place on October 27, BI-REX is able to support research and innovation of SMEs, thanks to the four areas of the plant dedicated to Big Data, Additive manufacturing, Robotics, Metrology and Finishing.



An example of a digital factory of the future, equipped with a cutting-edge production line accessible to SMEs, large companies, researchers, with the necessary tools to develop innovation in the national industrial fabric: this is the Pilot Line inaugurated at the BI-REX headquarters. , the Competence center of Bologna, designed for companies and research centers that will be able to get to know the technologies enabling Industry 4.0 in the areas of Big Data development, Additive Manufacturing, Robotics, Finishing and metrology.

These are the areas of specialization of BI-REX, the first of the eight National Competence Centers established in 2018 with the national Industry 4.0 plan, to be equipped with its own functioning and operational Pilot Plant. The new structure, a smart factory capable of integrating modern and traditional technologies to support digital transformation and increase the added value of company production, is the central node of an interconnected network of innovation centers and laboratories, made up of various BI- REX, a public-private consortium that brings together 12 universities, research centers and 45 companies of excellence.

The inauguration, broadcast in streaming, took place in the presence of Domenico Bambi, BI-REX president, Gian Paolo Manzella, undersecretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and the councilors of the Emilia-Romagna Region, Paola Salomoni (Research and digital agenda) and Vincenzo Colla (Economic development). The four areas of the Pilot Plant, reconfigurable and flexible for industrial research and development projects, verification and testing of the innovative solutions implemented, without the constraints of company production, were illustrated by the manager Francesco Meoni (see the Pilot Line’s presentation).

The inauguration event of the Pilot Line represents a crucial stage for BI-REX: since the creation of our Competence Center we have set ourselves the goal of supporting the processes of technological innovation and digitization of SMEs. – said the director, Stefano Cattorini – The realization of the Pilot Line is configured as one of the fundamental pieces of our path and allows us to meet the innovation needs of Italian companies: in fact we provide them with a real smart factory, a production system on which they can test technologies, implement solutions and create prototypes“.

The Pilot Line was set up between April and September 2020, accelerating the works despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, with the aim of making the Industry 4.0 technologies of the plant available to companies as soon as possible: the goal achieved will allow for the integration hands-on training and the transfer of technologies and skills among the key activities of Bi-Rex. The latter also include tenders co-financed with the Ministry of Economic Development (two of the three have already been assigned), which provide 5.4 million euros, the largest sum allocated among all the Competence Centers, for the realization of about 27 innovative projects in 8 thematic areas.

“In a delicate moment like this, SMEs urgently need technology and skills to remain competitive and face the challenges they will face in the coming years – observes Cattorini –: our Competence Center, whose role is precisely to create a system technological resources and skills, contributing to the economic growth of the national production fabric, not only offers the concrete opportunity to make the enabling technologies 4.0 closely known but is also able to provide SMEs with environments, such as those of our Pilot Line, in which do “Test before Invest” activities (ie try integrated and interconnected technologies before investing) “.

The activity of BI-REX, know-how aggregator of High Technology in Emilia-Romagna, is aimed at developing high TRL solutions (ready for the market) and is part of both a national and international road map: within this context lies the proposed candidacy of BI-REX, as leader, to become a future European Digital Innovation Hub. “The candidate digital Innovation Pole, BI-REX ++ (read BI-REX plus plus), led by our Consortium – declares Cattorini – intends to characterize itself as a national reference for the topic of ‘High Performance Computing & Big Data processing for Industry ‘, which, together with AI and CS, will be declined with prevalence in the Manufacturing, Life Science and Green Technologies sectors. BI-REX ++ will be able to count not only on the “pluses” of our Competence Center (CINECA, INFN, INTESA, ENI to name a few), but also on the additional “pluses” ensured by additional partners (both national and international excellence in the industry and in applied research, both the Digital Innovation HUBs of all the trade associations, i.e. Confindustria, Legacoop and CNA): it is therefore a partnership of 10 subjects, rich and inclusive, which can already count on 11 endorsements and commitments to future collaborations through letters of intent”.

“I am very happy to know that BI-REX is making progress, focused on a vocation that is now in Bologna and Emilia Romagna, that of data – comments Gian Paolo Manzella, undersecretary of the Ministry of Economic Development -. It is important that some Competence centers become the driving force behind an important experience in Italy: we have a number of points of excellence, but aggregators are lacking and Competence centers can be. In addition to bringing together research supply and demand or machinery 4.0, they can have the function of a magnet to bring out the capabilities and needs of technology present in a territory. It seems to me that BI-REX is working in this sense and that it is also helped by the beautiful place it is in, to become a place where you go with pleasure. On the other hand, the challenge of the future is to make sure that industry, technology and innovation are seen as familiar and beautiful things that can be approached. Good luck”.

Emilia-Romagna is a region that competes and relates to the world, and wants to continue to do so by focusing more and more on technological innovation, digitization, applied research, skills – comments Vincenzo Colla, councilor for economic development and green economy, work, training of the Emilia-Romagna Region -. The pilot line created by Bi-Rex in Bologna, the first in Italy, represents absolute excellence from this point of view and will be a point of reference for the entire ecosystem of our companies, with the aim of supporting and accompanying the supply chains in the transition towards Industry 4.0 paradigms, which are also essential for creating quality work “.

“The Emilia-Romagna Region has long placed innovation, research, the transfer of technologies, results, processes, from the places of knowledge production to the places of its use at the center of its policies, in favor of economic and social growth of our territory and to improve the lives of our citizens – says Paola Salomoni, councilor for school, university, research, digital agenda of the Emilia-Romagna Region -. We have built an innovation ecosystem with many players, each with their own role, with the aim of multiplying opportunities and places, with a view to “leaving no one behind”. With this premise, we inaugurate an example of a digital factory of the future, equipped with a cutting-edge production line accessible to SMEs, large companies, researchers, with the necessary tools to develop innovation in the national industrial fabric. For this reason, the Region supports Bi-Rex, through the presence of its in-house ART-ER, considering BI-REX to all intents and purposes a component of the regional innovation ecosystem. Now it is time, however, to think about the future. The future for the region will be characterized by an important strategic document shared with all the social partners, the “Pact for Labor and Climate”, which sets the agenda for the years of the legislature, and of which digital is an integral and transversal basic part.”