Leaders in academic, medical, research and professional fields were awarded on October 14 for their commitment to winning bids to hold congresses and events in Florence, which bring a strong economic impact to the city. Taking place in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, ambassadors of Florence were acknowledged for their efforts to strengthen the city as a destination for congresses and events.
For Destination Florence Magazine, we speak with the new President of the University of Florence, Alessandra Petrucci, who discusses the university’s contribution to the development of the local congress system.
Chancellor of the University of Florence, Alessandra Petrucci
The slogan for the Florence Ambassador Leadership Programme (FALP) declares Let’s Grow Florence Together. To achieve this, FALP was set up in 2014 by the Firenze Convention Bureau, which has worked for over 20 years in the implementation of initiatives capable of expanding quality tourism and attracting events of high scientific and cultural value to Florence. This role was further strengthened in 2018, thanks to a formal agreement signed by the Comune di Firenze, Città Metropolitana, the Camera di Commercio and the University of Florence. Ambassadors are leaders in the scientific and academic community who are representatives of cultural and public and private institutes with a strong sense of belonging to the city. Their role as Key Opinion Leaders positively influences the choice of Florence as a destination for future events, bringing prestige and visibility to the local professional community.
Since 2015, the Firenze Convention Bureau has been actively collaborating with the Università di Firenze, developing nominations for national and international congresses, supporting events, conferences and summer schools, and facilitating access to suppliers for services necessary for the implementation of the various services related to events or conferences. The President of the Università degli Studi di Firenze (UniFI), Alessandra Petrucci, spoke about the university’s contribution in that regard: “The University of Florence is open to the world. It has strong roots and a significant presence in the city. With the city and for the city, we organize events such as Festival d’Europa, Sundays at the University, and many others. We are what’s known as a ‘civic university’, and we want to be ever more so because we learn from the city and we teach for the city. The university represents one of the most relevant systems of Italian public research, both for the number of researchers and for the scientific-disciplinary variety of teaching. The researchers of the University of Florence form 21 departments, of which nine are of the highest standards. UniFI also has about 40 research facilities, including interdepartmental and inter-university centers.”
The Renaissance city is one of the top 40 destinations in Europe and is competitive with very strong European destinations. Florence is the third Italian city for the number of international meetings hosted in the last 3 years, while it’s in sixth place in the ranking for the number of local Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) who hold positions within international associations. This means that the city is very efficient in terms of the maximization of the Intellectual Capital, or rather of the already established KOLs. Petrucci commented “In Florence, the university offers an education in all disciplinary fields, with 138 degree courses…and a strong international vocation: in fact, there are 10 courses that take place entirely in English and over 20 study courses which lead to a double degree or a joint degree, in addition to numerous international curricula within single degree courses. Thanks to the educational offering in English, the number of international and Erasmus students in Florence is more than the national average. There’s high participation in research programmes of national and international interest and the scientific results achieved are of benefit to the city, such as how to reduce CO2 emissions, how to improve the circular economy, and how to make the best use of big data. However, the tasks of a modern university don’t stop at research and teaching. In recent years, we have developed even more interaction with our territory and the whole of society, the so-called Third Mission. Innovation transfer activities have been consolidated, from the filing of patents to the establishment of joint laboratories with companies up to participation in spin-off companies. Together, we have strengthened the relationship between our research facilities and external bodies.”
“There are almost 500 agreements with about 100 countries, and a significant increase in the mobility of teachers, researchers and students, only temporarily interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. There are many exchange programmes and initiatives with the 46 foreign universities in the city: we hold joint events and student exchanges and organize UniFI courses in US universities. All these strategies also serve to help integrate US university students into our city and make them feel like real ambassadors of Florence, developing a strong sense of belonging to the city. This is also the case for Erasmus students on study abroad programmes who interact with Florentine students. Over twenty years ago, the University of Florence was recognized as the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence, with the aim of coordinating, in collaboration with other university institutions, all activities which concern European integration and the dissemination of information on these activities in order to promote their development and increase their effectiveness.”
“We are all aware of the impact the pandemic has had on our lives and in particular on the experience of communities. Italian universities have had a formidable reaction: using cutting-edge technologies, they have worked hard to tackle new problems and have managed to ensure continuity in teaching. Now, the challenge is that of returning in presence, because there’s no university without comparison, dialogue, and shared growth. Now is the time to start again, in every sense, and the university is ready to do its part, with presence in the classrooms and laboratories, respecting the current legislation, and also with conferences and meetings, welcoming international and Erasmus students, and confirming the attractiveness of the city and the competence of our services. The university can now fully recover its role and give life again to all its initiatives, which live on exchanges, meetings, events, conferences and in the sharing of excellence, which strongly contributes to promoting the city and consequently also develops the local congress system.”
The Florence Ambassador Awards were presented at the Salone dei Cinquecento, Palazzo Vecchio from 6pm on October 14, in a project by the Firenze Convention Bureau and Firenze Fiera. www.conventionbureau.it/florence-ambassador.award
This article was originally published in Issue 3 of Destination Florence Magazine.
Destination Florence Magazine is a magazine aimed at promoting Florence as a quality destination by Destination Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau in partnership with The Florentine, with the support of the Comune di Firenze. Featuring news, interviews, articles and events from an original point of view, DF Magazine dives deeper into the Florence you don’t expect. From trade shows to conferences, the wedding industry, startups and study abroad programs, this magazine offers insight and ideas for the future of Florence and Tuscany.