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RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT IN SARDINIA
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The ICT district in Sardinia

Profile of a boy at the computer
Sardegna DistrICT, the new ICT district of Sardinia, has been built on the scientific, technologic, managerial and entrepreneurial know-how which developed from the early 1990 in Sardinia, especially in the Cagliari area, in the ICT and advanced Internet application field.

In those years, the Regional Administration founded CRS4, the Center for Advanced Studies, Research and Development in Sardinia, which under the leadership of Nobel Laureate Carlo Rubbia and Prof. Paolo Zanella and with the collaboration of researchers from the CERN in Geneva, created the first Italian website (www.crs4.it) and published an online edition of regional newspaper "L'Unione Sarda", the first Italian daily on the web.
The online edition of L'Unione Sarda laid the groundwork for the birth of Video On Line, the first commercial Internet service provider in Italy. On the wake of the Video On Line experience, Tiscali was founded, soon becoming one of the main Internet companies in Europe, and many other high-tech SMEs.

ICTs thus became a tool for breaking the barrier of geographical isolation and give new momentum to the island's economic development, creating employment opportunities and raising Sardinia's international profile.

The ICT district aims at bringing together the existing store of knowledge and expertise in a single integrated system for innovation and competitiveness, fostering collaboration and synergy between public and private research centres and ICT businesses, providing highly qualified human resources and appropriate financial tools.

Indeed, districts in Italy are conceived as territorial systems where:
- physical proximity between the different business and scientific players,
- easy circulation of information and exchange of experience and knowledge,
- common roots and shared economic and cultural interests,
can foster rapid growth processes, also through assimilation/imitation, and fruitful collaboration among companies and between business and research.

The key strength of the Sardegna DistrICT project is its medium-long term vision, aiming at predicting the strategic developments of convergence between ICT and digital and multimedia technologies and at identifying, in the vast realm of ICTs and DMTs (Digital Media Technologies), areas or approaches having high growth potential, in which it is possible to aspire to excellence (by means of state-of-the-art applied research, able to generate interesting business opportunities).

The following priority thematic areas have been identified:
- Territorial enhancement: tourism, cultural and environmental heritage, local products
- Digital media: technologies and contents
- GeoWeb: geographical/georeferenced data and Web.

The district development strategy is based on metaprogrammes comprising R&D and training activities, aimed at creating technology labs, currently being set up, into which will converge the scientific and technology know-how of enterprises, universities and research centres.

Furthermore, the technology labs will expand the district's technology set and know-how for the benefit of all players concerned and will promote implementation of applied research, the transfer of research results to industry, and the launch of new business initiatives.