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The LifeStyle-Tech Competence Center in Ticino grows fast

Institutional Communication Service

The LifeStyle-Tech Competence Center (LTCC) Association was co-founded on July 16, 2020, by USI, SUPSI, Accenture, Bally, Guess, Microsoft, Hyphen, Dagorà Innovation Hub and Loomish – with the support of the Lugano City Council. On December 14, the Association announced at a press conference the prospect of significant activity growth in 2021, through the development of university research projects, an "open innovation" plan funded by Microsoft, the creation of new jobs by the Accenture group, and the support of UBS Group.

In spring 2020, the Lugano-based Association opened a research and development facility of about 1.000 sqm2, establishing within a center of international excellence for the creation of innovative technologies in the fashion, design, tourism, food and health sectors [>> https://www.usi.ch/en/feeds/14062]. The driving force behind the activities of the center are key technologies such as eCommerce, Blockchain, 3D development, Artificial Intelligence, Biga Data, Internet of Things, and other innovations in the broad ICT sector. The Competence Center aims at attracting investments by Swiss and foreign firms, encouraging entrepreneurial growth, and playing an active role in the creation of jobs in Ticino.

During the press conference held on Monday, December 14, the LTCC Association presented the progress made so far and outlined the important growth prospects expected for 2021. After the institutional keynotes of the State Councillor Christian Vitta – who announced the readiness of the Ticino Government to invest in the LifeStyle-Tech segment – and the Mayor of Lugano Marco Borradori – who underscored that innovation is a key element of the development strategy of the City – the President of LTCC Carlo Terreni explained that "current projects are ambitious and the Association is gaining momentum, ironically, driven by the opposite effect of the crisis. The tech companies in the LifeStyle sector are growing fast, they need to hire and have adequate workspaces, and they seek research projects to keep up with ever evolving markets, which is indeed an effect generated by the pandemic crisis. Moreover, the decision of UBS, Microsoft, Dagorà and Accenture to invest in Lugano are a practical and tangible proof of the attractiveness of our region for the LifeStyle sector". Luca Pedrotti, Regional Director UBS Ticino, announced the important support for the activities of the Association: "UBS is convinced to sponsor and become a member of the Association, for the broad scope of buisness areas covered by the LifeStyle-Tech – i.e. fashion, health, tourism, food, etc. – and for the prospects that the sector will offer in terms of employment, innovation, and overall investments. UBS's commitment is therefore based on the shared goals of contributing to innovation and economic development in our Canton".

The Competence Center is responsible for initiating and coordinating research projects, as well as enabling knowledge transfer between member companies and the academic excellences already present in the region. Boas Erez, Rector of USI Università della Svizzera italiana, affirmed that "the LifeStyle-Tech sector does not only mean fashion, but also gastronomy, tourism, health, design and more. This is a very interesting concept that allows us to contribute with our varied academic skills and at the same time to consolidate the presence of the University in sectors in which it already operates. Take, for example, the Master in Digital Fashion Communication, which is offered in collaboration with Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in Paris, from which projects were developed in our region, such as the one already underway between USI, Bally, and Hyphen to develop digital communication methods for the Schuhmuseum Bally". The Rector of USI also announced the appointment of Professor Luca Maria Gambardella as the new Pro-Rector for Innovation and Corporate Relations, thus confirming the commitment of USI towards the technological and business communities in Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.

Emanuele Carpanzano, Director of the Department of Innovative Technologies (DTI) at SUPSI, reiterated the commitment of DTI to fostering project delivery within the LTCC. "We have several projects in the making, including the creation of new 'ChatBots’ that exploit new 'computational linguistics' techniques for personalising the sale of products or the provision of services." 

In its first six months of life, the Competence Center has managed to raise important private investments among its associated members to finance research projects and "Open Innovation" activities, such as those initiated by Microsoft, which has recently opened a branch in Ticino. Luca Callegari, Management Board member at Microsoft Switzerland, explained: "The LTCC Association helps innovative companies to accelerate their 'time to market', their competitiveness, in order to be ready to respond to the many challenges and opportunities in the market. Since the creation of the Competence Center, we have invested in building our local presence, through the development of an innovation lab within the LTCC itself, engaging in the identification of startups and support through mentoring and coaching of local businesses." Callegari also announced the hiring, effective January 1, 2021, of a full-time staff member who will work with the Association for technology scouting in the region.

The positive impact in the region of the LifeStyle-Tech research hub is reflected in the creation of new jobs in Ticino, as Accenture has announced for the first leg of its structured phased growth process planned between 2021-2023. Michele Raballo, Managing Director & Board Member at Accenture Switzerland, said, "Ticino will be an important R&D hub for Accenture in the coming years. In fact, from January 2021 we shall be hiring a few dozens of new staff and we are finalising a collaboration agreement with SUPSI-DTI for the funding of scholarships in the field of Artificial Intelligence. We want to create specialised teams in different areas, starting from the talents already present in the region".

The LifeStyle-Tech Competence Center Association
The scope of the Association is to foster and support, in the framework of the Switzerland Innovation Park-Ticino, innovative businesses that can perform R&D in the Lifestyle-Tech, FoodTech, FashionTech, MediaTech, TravelTech, DesignTech, ArtTech, Smartworking, Smartliving, eEntertainment, SportTech and similar sectors, to improve their competitiveness with a positive impact on society in terms of qualified jobs, quality of life, and the overall economy. The Association intends in particular to foster synergies among relevant partners and the creation of a Competence Center dedicated to the LifeStyle industries, supporting the organic growth of the community at Swiss and international level. In particular, the Association intends to promote collaboration between companies and academic institutions, encouraging the transfer of technology and knowledge. The Association does not pursue commercial purposes or profit making activities. >> https://lifestyletechcompetencecenter.com

RSI report, 14.12.2020 (in Italian)