In 2011, aware of the importance that this macro area has acquired, the AlpMed Chambers of Commerce entered the most operational stage of a long-term collaboration; they set up a permanent Secretariat under Belgian law AlpMed Asbl (Association Sans But Lucratif), which marks a milestone in the history of cross-border collaboration.
AlpMed has therefore acquired an economic and relational perspective that makes it a dynamic unit in the panorama ofthe European macro-regions. The geographical and linguistic vicinity of Italy and France, a homogeneous approach to socio-economic problems, and the will to pursue common goals have made it a frontier laboratory, which is successfully experimenting with joint action and cross-frontier solutions to shake off the crisis of recent years.
This scenario is a good starting point to understand the importance of the Colloque Franco-Italien a report on the economic relations between the French and Italian regions of AlpMed promoted for the second year running by the French Consulate General of Turín and Genoa, prepared by Unioncamere Piemonte and the Torino Chamber of Commerce. Although not claiming to be exhaustive the Colloque provides a truthful photograph of the socio-economic situation in the Euroregion in terms of import-export, investment in research and innovation training and labour policies, tourism and trade.
The products most requested by the French market from the four Italian AlpMed regions were automotive and engineering products, while Italy imported chemicals, metals and metal products in particular from the two French AlpMed regions.
Investment in research and innovation is essential to sustain the growth of the local entrepreneurial system ofthe AlpMed macro area, and the latest available data, for the year 2009, indicate expenditure of Euro 10.4 billion in R&D in the territory analysed, 4.4% of the overall sum earmarked for R&D by the 27 countries in the European Union. This investment accounts for of GDP generated in the AlpMed territories, in line with the EU-27, where spending on R&D represents 1.9% of total GDP.
A territory's innovative capacity is also measured by its links and collaboration with other players in innovative sectors. There are 21 "poli tecnologici" in the Italian AlpMed regions, and 21 "pôles de compétitivité" on the French side of the border. Since 2008 these technology centres have developed numerous collaboration agreements; there are currently ten on-going projects, which involve a total of thirteen organisations.
Most collaboration agreements develop under the umbrella of the European Interreg Alcotra programme, which was launched between 2011 and 2012 and should conclude in the period 2013-2014.
Approximately one third of these collaboration agreements focuses on issues that come under research and development in the broadest sense of the term while another 30% of the projects regard research into new materials and life sciences.
Inter-disciplinary exchange and collaboration between universities are very important not only for the enhancement of university careers and for work opportunities for students, but also for the prestige of the universities themselves, 24 agreements are on-going in the AlpMed macroarea, between university academic institutes focusing on the creation of transnational degrees.
We should underline that the analysis of the AlpMed Euroregion contained in the 2012 edition of the Colloque Franco-Italien is particularly significant because it comes at a time when the EU 2007/2013 programme is coming to an end, and attention is being focused on the new action lines of the 2014/2020 programme, in which the macroregions will play a leading role for the European Commission because they are called on to contribute and guarantee economic competitiveness and social cohesion.