INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE: The Trends of the Italian Space Sector as Monitored by the “Distretto Virtuale” Portal with a Focus on SMEs

INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE: The Trends of the Italian Space Sector as Monitored by the “Distretto Virtuale” Portal with a Focus on SMEs

Giacomo P. Sciortino (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/ijstmi.2011070103


The “Distretto Virtuale” portal is an interactive area, featuring several virtual tools, of the Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) website ( Its community is steadily growing and includes all of the main Italian sector’s stakeholders: business, entrepreneurial associations, research entities, central and local public authorities, financial institutions, investors, consultants, etc. Some tools have been designed to promote membership, as well as “guest” access, abroad. At a macroeconomic level the portal provides, a periodical evaluation of the sector’s trends based on direct business data and a strategic report on the “integrated finance” initiatives, which are the main ASI’s activities supported by the portal. At a microeconomic level, the portal offers its virtual tools to promote the sector’s interactions with ASI and within itself, mainly (but not only) following an “integrated finance” approach: a platform where every commercial registered subject can be located by its size, capacities, and other factors, and where its technological proposals, both as prototypes and new products, can be considered and operationally supported. Special care is given to the promotion of the portal to international users and emerging countries in particular.
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The Italian Space Agency web portal Distretto Virtuale supports and monitors sectoral developments both at a macroeconomic and a microeconomic level. As to microeconomics, the portal is providing, among others, a registered access to national and international subjects interested in cooperating with the Agency or the sector, for technological development or business promotion. The main tool in question is the “Directory of Business and science Community”, which is actually featuring only business subjects registered in Italy. This DB can be accessed also in “guest” mode and, by means of selective queries, allows, for example, the extraction of lists of matching firms as well as the reading and printing of their personal info-sheets. One interesting extraction concerns the list of prototype projects open to collaborations (products and prototypes showcase).

The Directory tool is sided by a Content Management platform, which unlike the Directory can feature, in a dedicated area, international subjects, even if the supported workflows are less customised. Finally, the Threaded email Communicator tool, which like the Content Manager is an open registration instrument, is dedicated to information exchanges available to all registered users, on a moderated basis.

To best profit from the portal’s opportunities, we first have to understand its whole rationale and especially its main task of promoting, measuring and monitoring economic activities in the Italian space sector, carried out by any type of subject (business firms, research entities, private and public subjects).

The periodical macroeconomic measurement of sectoral trends in Italy is a basic function of the above, and one particularly important for the potential international partners and observers in general. It offers in fact the ground for strategical considerations. This measurement is based on data (turnover, number of employees, etc.) directly updated by each firm registered in the portal’s DB (Directory) by means of a web personal info-sheet, and suitably aggregated by an inbuilt statistical operator.

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