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Table 2 Overview about the projects representing UNIMC’s civic engagement (own elaboration)

From: Civic universities and bottom-up approaches to boost local development of rural areas: the case of the University of Macerata


Marche Excellence

Farm Inc

Gastronomic Cities

International Student Competition (ISC)



(ongoing network)



2015 - ongoing



(private network)

Leonardo Lifelong Learning Programme


Local public and private sponsorships/UNIMC internal funds


Initial Partnership: Marche Region, University of Macerata, Banca Popolare di Ancona (UBI), Fermo Municipality (Tipicità Festival), Marche’s Chambers of Commerce.

Main goal: creating a network among Made in Marche producers to promote the region.

2009: (During Tipicità Festival): Establishment of the Marche d’Eccellenza Forum, laboratory of ideas to promote the Made in Marche (food & wine and handicrafts);

2010: Marche d’Eccellenza Forum - discussion about the creation of a regional umbrella brand and tourism development (need for leadership/code of conduct)

2011: Marche d’Eccellenza Forum – no discussion, absence of Regional representatives, no regional umbrella brand.

Main outputs: 2012: Marche d’Eccellenza contract network (13 entreprises)

(Rinaldi and Cavicchi 2016)

Partnership: Italy, Greece, Belgium, Latvia, Cyprus.

UNIMC Financial Support: € 50.149,00 (total project’s funding: € 297.971,00)

Main Goal: facilitate the acquisition of skills by providing marketing training to the enterprises in the agri-food sector.

Main outputs: online platform on marketing of agri-food products.

Partnership: Fermo (Marca Fermana Association) (FM), Alba Julia (Romania), L’hospitalet de Llobregat (Spain) and Korydallos (Greece).

Main goal: promotion of gastronomy as a key for urban development taking Burgos -Spain (2015 UNESCO Citiy of Gastronomy) as a best practice. Specific goal: increase the reputation of Fermo as a cultural and gastronomic tourism destination.

Main outputs: creation and implementation of a Local Action Plan for Fermo as a gastronomic tourism destination.

Partnership: UNIMC, Piceno Laboratory on Mediterranean Diet

UNIMC Financial Support: Scholarship for the participation of 20 UNIMC students enrolled in International Courses (10.000,00 € in total per year)

Main goal: giving value to the Mediterranean Diet as a leverage for the touristic development of Fermo Area. It consists in a contest among international students engaged in a dialogue with local stakeholder, in lectures on place branding and in experiential learning activities in order to provide innovative ideas for the promotion of the area and make an impact with a social media challenge (use of ICT) (Cavicchi et al. 2018).

Main outputs: Increased visibility and reputation of the area on the social media; works and ideas provided by students.


Provision of super partes expertise, facilitation of the discussion among participants and stakeholder engagement about the process for creating and managing the network.

(Cavicchi et al. 2014).

Stakeholder engagement for the collection of learning needs; design, creation and provision of the learning materials; management of the web portal.

Use as an online didactic tool for students.

Stakeholder engagement; participation in the elaboration of the Local Action Plan; research activities;

Experiential learning activities involving students.

Co-creation of the initiative. Engagement of participants from international universities and from other regions (students and scholars); Involvement of UNIMC’s professors;

Design of the didactic program (experiential learning (Kolb 1984); lectures; project-based/problem-based learning (Boud and Feletti 1997; Bell 2010; Blumenfeld et al. 1991)). Provision of scholarships for UNIMC students’participation.


ASSAM: Innovamarche and ARIEL

The Wine Lab - Generating Innovation between Practice and Research (TWL)

FOODBIZ - University and business learning for new employability paths in food and gastronomy



2016 – ongoing








(several sources: e.g. Horizon2020; ERDP)


Interreg-Adrion (ERDF)




Collaboration: ASSAM (Regional Agency for Agri-food Services in Marche Region) – UNIMC

Stakeholders engaged: researchers, policy makers, associations trade associations; local businesses.


Main goal: creating a concrete support for the implementation of bottom-up innovative and sustainable projects and for connecting actors that could work together, get public funds and develop joint projects at national and European level in the agri-food sector.

Main outputs: the creation of an online platform in which sharing all the innovative ideas and implementing them in operative groups, according to the specific needs identified on the territory and related to agriculture.


Partnership: Italy, Croatia, Greece and Montenegro.

Main goal: promoting technological and non-technological solutions for innovation and sustainability in small-scale fishery and aquaculture in Adriatic-Ionian area through the creation of a knowledge network; through transferable activities.

Main outputs: online platform to support transnational networking and permanent knowledge sharing.

Partnership: UNIMC (coordinator); universities, associations, policy makers, research centres and small wineries from Austria, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Cyprus (disadvantaged areas).

UNIMC Financial Support: € 138.033,00 (total project’s funding: € 946.548,00)

Main goal: stimulating knowledge flow, sharing challenges and solutions, and jointly generating and accelerating innovation in the wine sector; creation of hubs (clusters) as groups of interest and learning communities involving all the stakeholders interested in the sector.

Main outputs: online platform for sharing knowledge, debate and provide learning materials to answer to common needs identified thanks to stakeholder engagement activities, towards the creation of wine hubs.

Partnership: UNIMC (coordinator). Other universities and associations from Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Croatia and Poland in the tourism, hospitality and agri-food fields.

UNIMC Financial Support: € 65.761,00 (total project’s funding: € 276.136,00)

Main goal: promoting the acquisition of employability skills in HEI’s students through their active involvement in context-based learning with local agri-food businesses. Promoting university-community co-creation for innovation and knowledge exchange.

Main outputs: the FOODBIZ Handbook; the creation of learning communities; the production of free online learning resources and the creation of guidelines for other communities.



Support innovation brokering processes (Howells 2006) during the Info Days, acting as an intermediary for innovation among several actors. Facilitating the discussion (OST - Owen 2008) supporting the bottom-up creation of operative groups, helping in formulating innovative ideas, in looking for strategic partnerships, in designing project proposals.


Innovation brokering (OST – Owen 2008) for the facilitation of the discussion among local stakeholders for collecting learning needs (Ancona, 02/19).

Design of a package of e-learning materials on marketing of fishery products, available for all the project partners.

Participation to learning events for presenting the materials provided (Split, 06/19; Sicily, 10/19; Ancona, 12/19).

In the UBC perspective, in order to boost the process of cross-fertilisation: stakeholder engagement; organisation of participatory approaches to facilitate the dialogue among stakeholders and collect learning needs; organisation of experiential learning events (also involving students): wine hackathons, wine weeks (students and staff mobility); conferences, online contests (e.g. design a wine label). Design and provision of learning materials; management of the online platform; run researches.

Organisation of participatory experiential learning workshops, entrepreneurial discovery process events and conferences directly involving stakeholders and students. Collection of learning needs. Design of learning materials. Management of the online platform. Participation in the elaboration of the Handbook and Guidelines.



PHD Programme

for innovation

PBL in the classroom


2012 - ongoing

2015 - ongoing



Internal funds


Partnership: UNIMC – Marche Region – Businesses

UNMC Financial Support: UNIMC partially covers the PhD Scholarships (max 13.000,00 €per student)

Main goal: providing co-funded scholarships for PhD innovation projects (50% time spent in a company).

Main outputs: Applied research/R&D/PhD Thesis. Developing entrepreneurial skills in students. Implementation of UBC.

Partnership: Informal collaboration among UNIMC, local stakeholders, students.

Description: stakeholders present their “challenges” during the Agri-food marketing and Place Branding and Rural Development classes: students work on real cases by applying their theoretical knowledge and competences so to provide suitable potential solutions (experiential learning and PBL (Kolb 1984; Barrows 2002) and to co-create new knowledge; develop employability skills.

Main outputs: application of feasible solutions in the companies’ context; creating joint events and further projects; opportunities for students (internships, job positions, PhD scholarships).


Application for obtaining several scholarships within the Department of Education, Cultural Heritage and Tourism, in collaboration with local companies. Tutoring of PhD Students. Implementation of UBC.

Stakeholder engagement. Providing a theoretical background to students to work on real cases; tutoring students; stimulating discussion for knowledge exchange and co-creation. Discussing further opportunities of collaboration with stakeholders. Implementation of UBC.