The skills and facilities of the platforms are available to third parties, both public and private, thanks to the development of the Open Lab methodology that allows the formulation and implementation of experimental activities in research laboratories characterised by nuclei of scientific expertise and the availability of equipment and instrumentation that cannot be easily replicated.
The methodology stems from a value chain consisting of a four-phase stage-gate process that, starting from the identified idea, need or opportunity, can lead to the provision of services or the development of new products and processes.
Phase 1. Collection of access requests (one-stop-shop). Platform skills and facilities can be used thanks to the development of an access channel that allows the scouting of needs and the formulation and implementation of services, characterised by high quality standards and the use of advanced scientific instruments. On a continuous basis or in response to dedicated calls, users can submit technical requests or product/process innovation requirements to be addressed using analytical methods and skills present in the platforms.
Phase 2. Technical-scientific analysis and feasibility check. The requests are the subject of in-depth meetings and subsequent technical-scientific evaluation activities involving the most suitable technical-scientific skills. The analysis of the proposed themes can be followed by a feasibility check, aimed at carrying out tests and trials deemed necessary to ascertain their plausibility. The outcome of the technical-scientific analysis and evaluation activities as well as feasibility checks is an essential information input for the subsequent definition of the experimental activities to be carried out at the platforms.
Phase 3. Definition of the activity plan. The definition of the activity plan includes a detailed description of the various phases of the experimental activities, the definition of objectives and milestones, the estimation of costs, times and constraints, and a clear indication of the necessary equipment and the relative machine time. This phase also assesses the need to define, by means of specific contractual agreements, the management of pre-existing expertise and intellectual property resulting from the execution of the business plan.
Phase 4. Implementation of activities and services. Activities and services may be offered by the platforms through the use of laboratories, equipment and excellent technical-scientific skills in different ways (“packages”), with degrees of involvement ranging from the signing of contracts with third parties to the purchase of slots for the use of the equipment with technical-scientific support staff, governed by contractual relationships defined each time.