Renzi unveils €1.5 billion post-Milan Expo plan

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Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has promised €1.5 billion to help transform the Milan Expo site into a "world class" research hub. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP
13:46 CET+01:00
The Italian government is ready to invest €150 million a year for the next decade to create a "world class" research centre at the site of Milan's World Expo, which wrapped up on October 31st.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi outlined government plans for the one million square meter site on Tuesday.

In his speech, Renzi hailed Expo 2015 a 'success' and announced plans to create “a world-class centre for research that will employ up to 1,600 researchers,” Il Sole 24 Ore reported.

The government has backed a plan put forward by the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) that will see the area transformed into a research hub for so-called 'big data', an analysis of data which enables researchers to predict human behaviour in the long-term, as well as genomics, nutrition, food and sustainability.

Many cities around the world have struggled to manage the large empty spaces and mega-structures that previous Expo fairs have left in their wake, and with all the remains of the Milan event set to be removed by July 2016, the government is aware of the pressing need to have a plan in place.

“We need to act quickly to make sure this doesn't become an area we regret,” Renzi said.

The scope of the ambitious plan, entitled “Italia 2040”, is to use the space to help make Italy a global leader in across number of fields by 2040.

“I don't know how the world will change between now and 2040 – but I do know where Italy needs to be,” Renzi added. 

But not everybody was convinced by the project.

“It's going to need a super project manager,” Lombardy President Roberto Maroni told the radio station, Anch'io, on Wednesday, reflecting widespread concerns that the large-scale redevelopment will simply see huge amounts of money lost to waste and corruption.

In addition to receiving €150 million each year from the state, the project will also partly financed by the University of Milan and the IIT.

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But Maroni feared that more would be needed.

“I don't think it's enough money,” he said said, adding: “I don't want IIT to come here and tell our universities how to do research.” 

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