Fabio Rubini

If there is one thing in which the Lombardy Region excels in a particular way, it is that of knowing how to take up a challenge and often being able to solve it. Broadly speaking, this is how the “Open challenge” initiative also works, born in 2019 to try to get citizens and businesses to dialogue on precise issues. To understand even better, let’s try to give an example: there is a company that has a problem in its production chain that it can’t solve. What to do? The solution proposed by the Pirellone is to join this initiative and launch a challenge (a challenge, in fact) open to all those who, based on their skills, want to take it up. We think not only of professionals in the sector, but also – if not above all – of university students, who are committed to studying the problem, finding a solution, proposing it to the company and with it, perhaps, even guaranteeing a future of work. Yes, because once the challenge is solved, the “winners” will be called by the companies to put their solution into practice. With all that this may entail also in terms of future and ongoing collaborations with these realities.


The platform is “moderated” by the Lombardy Region which has the task of certifying the goodness of the participants and coordinating challenges and responses. In short, as economists would say, bring together supply and demand. To participate, the company or SME just needs to go to the section, fill out the form and wait to be contacted by a dedicated team who will give them information and support. In the first 30 months of life, the Open Challenge initiative – found within the regional portal dedicated to Open Innovation: www.openinnovation.regione.lombardia.it – ​​recorded over 70 challenges launched, mainly of an international nature, which involved something like 2,715 participants – a figure that more than doubled between the first and second year of use of the platform – with an ever-increasing trend, which bodes well for the future of this practice. And he says that so far the Lombardy Region has won its challenge, which is to accelerate the dissemination of the culture of open innovation by offering spaces and services dedicated to businesses, as mentioned, to launch competitive challenges, challenges or contests of ideas, revolts to innovators, start-ups, SMEs and citizens.


Once again, the numbers speak for themselves. In the first year – 2019 – there were 418 participants. As of March 31 of this year there were already 571, a number that will allow the Open Challenge to beat the “record” of 909 participants recorded in 2020. It is also interesting to try to understand who relies on this initiative made available by the Lombardy Region and developed thanks to the support of Finlombarda Spa as a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network (Een), i.e. the largest network of innovative services dedicated to small and medium-sized European enterprises. Mostly multinationals ask for help from Open Challenge, representing 31% of the total, followed by large companies (21%). Also interesting is the presence of 10% of investee companies belonging to the public administration. First of all, start-ups (25%) and small and medium-sized enterprises (26%) accept and solve challenges. But it should also be noted that 9% of universities and 5% of students.

The data concerning the conclusion of the various challenges is also interesting. In most cases they close with collaboration agreements between those who had the problem and those who solved it. But the data concerning the commercial agreements linked to these collaborations, as well as the cash prizes paid, are also interesting. And for the younger ones also internships with the prospect of future employment. As is clear, the Open Challenge was first and foremost won by the Lombardy Region, which believed in this project and more generally in the potential of good practices linked to the economic sector that takes the name of Open Innovation.

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