In the contemporary world, universities have become a key driver of local economic growth. Universities are linked directly to the local and international business sectors (providing talent, skills and research) and are important hubs attracting students, lecturers and researchers from all around the country and the world, who can contribute significantly to the economic and cultural life of the community, boosting its international dimension and steering it firmly to become a society based on the knowledge economy.
Competition at the national and international levels revolves primarily around the attractiveness of higher education institutions and the quality of teaching and research standards. The rest of the local fabric can help, however, by determining what services are offered to students and teaching staff, the quality of their reception and city life in general, and the amount of funds that should be channelled into research and innovation.
Torino in recent years has invested heavily in this sector. New campus facilities have been built (lecture halls, student accommodation and cafeterias); new fields of research have been activated; major policy initiatives have been launched to encourage exchange programmes and attract international students; and solid, effective ties have remained in place with the business world. This has all been made possible thanks to the local system’s capacity to attract national and European funding. The city’s vocation as a university town can be strengthened still by building an integrated strategy involving all the major strategic players involved— the universities themselves, of course, but also the Piedmont Region, City of Torino and municipalities that host university campuses and connected activities, along with the business segments most closely linked to advanced research and technological innovation.