The origins of the “Distretto” are strictly linked to Sicily in the technological, scientific and industrial sector of micro and nano systems.
The so-called “Etna Valley”, a successful scientific and business community area, was a national and international case and the location choice of the “Distretto”was due to the possibility to dispose of professionals and competences which represent the main conditions of attractiveness of high-tech investing.
The “Distretto” was born as a consortium on August 1, 2008 and it is one of the 25 districts promoted by the Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR) in cooperation with the regions involved, in compliance with the 2005-2007 National Research Program. The “MIUR” has assigned the “Distretto” the task to operate as “interface in the supply chain of knowledge” and therefore aggregate critical masses, modernise infrastructures and technological platforms and concentrate resources for strategical objectives and projects, through research, specialised training, territorial marketing and attracting investments.
The “Distretto” was born thanks to the Sicilian Region which suggested setting it up; it was then evaluated by the “MIUR” on the basis of the starting point of the territory, the feasibility and the potential of the project and the capacity to attract investments.
The considerations of the “MIUR” soon lead to the acknowlegement of the dynamic technological-entrepreneurial features of the island in the high-tech field and the subsequent decision to consolidate it through the setting up of a district officially recognised and specialised in micro and nano systems:
- September 2003, presentation of a “Feasibility Study” on the initiative of the Ministry of Education (MIUR), the University of Catania and STMicroelectronics;
- 7 November 2003, the “MIUR”, the Sicilian Region, the Universities of Catania, Palermo and Messina, the City Councils and local Authorities of the three towns involved sign a preliminary Memorandum of Understanding to promote a high-tech district specialised in micro and nano systems in Sicily. The “distretto” covers the Catania territory and in particular the Etna Valley, but also the territories of Messina, Ragusa and Palermo;
- 14 June 2005, the Region of Sicily, the “MIUR” and the Ministry of Finance sign the final framework “Scientific Research and Technological Innovation”;
- 1 August 2008, after the creation of restricted working groups to define the Governance (in compliance with the D.M. 10 October 2003 and D.M.593/2000) and the definition of the Statutes and the shareholders’ agreements, the Consortium with limited liability is officially set up and called “Distretto Tecnologico Sicilia Micro e Nano Sistemi s.c.a.r.l.”. Its no-profit aims are to promote research, development and advanced training in the Micro and Nano systems sector. There are 28 underwriting partners of the s.c.a r.l and they include, besides the Region of Sicily, the the Universities of Catania, Palermo and Messina, research centres and enterprises of the territory. In November 2008, the first Shareholders’ Meeting was held, starting off the activities of the “Distretto”.