Between North and South, innovation accelerates in the "San Bernardino Lab"

Intercantonal agreement between four Municipalities, three universities of Graubünden and Ticino and Paradisea to promote sustainable development

San Bernardino Lab: the beginning of the collaboration in the "San Bernardino Lab" was marked on 4 July 2023 by a symbolic walk that involved the hospice of the same name
On Tuesday 4 July 2023, a symbolic walk marked the beginning of the collaboration in the context of the "San Bernardino Lab" in a historic meeting place, the hospice of the same name, between the Municipalities of the passes involved (Mesocco, Rheinwald, Soazza and Sufers ), three Swiss UAS (the Graubünden University of Applied Sciences, the Graubünden University of Applied Sciences and the Applied University of Southern Switzerland) and the Paradisea association

Thanks to the mountain passes in the canton of Graubünden, relations between the northern and southern regions of the Switzerland they have always been very important, despite the existing language barrier with Ticino.

To keep these relationships alive in the future, "San Bernardino Lab" was born, a living laboratory in which theGrisons Higher Education School, Graubünden University of Applied Sciences , University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland, together with the Paradisea association and the Municipalities of Mesocco, Rheinwald, Soazza and Sufers.

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San Bernardino Lab: the San Bernardino Pass is an alpine pass at 2066 meters above sea level in the Canton of Grisons in Switzerland, located on the watershed between the Po and the Rhine basins
The San Bernardino Pass is an Alpine pass at 2066 meters above sea level in the Canton of Graubünden in Switzerland, located on the watershed between the Po and Rhine basins

The bipartisan applause of politics for a project designed above all for the mountains

Jon Domenic Parolini, State Councilor of the Canton of Graubünden, convincingly illustrated the project: “Intensified cooperation with non-cantonal university research institutes, universities and scientific and technical faculties and the creation of networks are essential elements of our innovation strategy. These cooperations strengthen research capacities, generate new knowledge and develop innovative solutions to current challenges."

On the same wavelength Christoph Zeitz, municipal representative of Sufers and Rheinwald: “As a mountainous and peripheral region, we are faced with numerous challenges, be they economic, touristic or cultural. Cooperation and mutual understanding with the South will play an important role in the development of the region.".

In particular, “The living laboratory as a forge of ideas therefore comes at an engaging and stimulating moment. It is hoped that it will become a hub and support between municipalities, offices and other organisations, so that future-oriented measures can be implemented.”

“In this important moment of revitalization of our region, the collaboration between the North and South of San Bernardino, thanks to the living laboratory, will generate strong cultural ties and important collaborations between two similar realities. In fact, the enhancement of our space passes through the knowledge of our territory and our history", said Mattia Ciocco, municipal representative of Mesocco and Soazza.

Piera Furger, high councilor representing Mesocco, clearly summarizes the future expected by the population and the school ecosystem: “The 'San Bernardino' living laboratory is a great opportunity to bring the north and south of the canton of Grisons together”.

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San Bernardino Lab: a lakeside activity for the little ones organized in the Canton of Grisons by the local association Paradisea
An activity by the lake for the little ones organized in the Canton of Grisons by the local association Paradisea

Widespread scientific consultancy and support in favor of the upper Reno valley and Mesolcina

Thanks to it, the various actors of the Rheinwald and Alta Mesolcina will be able to receive scientific advice and support in planning their Sustainable Development.

The activities envisaged by the "San Bernardino Lab" focus on issues related to sustainability.

The living laboratory is directed by Barbara Beer, a native of San Bernardino and longtime teacher at the Graubünden Pedagogical High School.

It intends to act as an information and expertise center in the bilingual region and to accompany related projects.

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San Bernardino Lab: the beginning of the collaboration in the "San Bernardino Lab" was marked on 4 July 2023 by a symbolic walk that involved the hospice of the same name
The beginning of the collaboration in the "San Bernardino Lab" was marked on 4 July 2023 by a symbolic walk that involved the hospice of the same name and involved Jon Domenic Parolini, Councilor of State of the Canton of Grisons, Piera Furger, representative of Mesocco, Barbara Beer, head of the laboratory and teacher at the Graubünden Pedagogical Higher School, Mattia Ciocco, municipal representative of Mesocco and Soazza, Christoph Zeitz, municipal representative of Sufers and Rheinwald, as well as Franco Gervasoni, Director General of the University School of Italian-speaking Switzerland, Jürg Kessler, Rector of the Graubünden University of Applied Sciences, and Gian-Paolo Curcio, Rector of the Graubünden Higher Education School

Symbolic walk for the collaboration extended to Mesocco, Rheinwald, Soazza and Sufers

On Tuesday, July 4, there was a symbolic walk around the historic meeting place, the San Bernardino Hospice.

It marked the beginning of the collaboration between the three universities and the Municipalities of the passes involved, namely Mesocco, Rheinwald, Soazza and Sufers.

Like other Alpine regions, the valleys on both sides of the San Bernardino Pass also face great challenges.

The objective of the newly inaugurated living laboratory is also to advise and accompany the various actors of the Rheinwald and Alta Mesolcina.

At the core are the design of their own Sustainable Developmentby tackling concrete problems together.

The participation of universities will also make it possible to support municipal administrations and offer them future-oriented solutions.

The function of linking the living laboratory between "North" and "South", between the Rheinwald and the Mesolcina valley, therefore represents a great opportunity.

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San Bernardino Lab: the San Bernardino Pass is an alpine pass at 2066 meters above sea level in the Canton of Grisons in Switzerland, located on the watershed between the Po and the Rhine basins
The San Bernardino Pass is an Alpine pass at 2066 meters above sea level in the Canton of Graubünden in Switzerland, located on the watershed between the Po and Rhine basins

Barbara Beer: “People and nature must remain at the heart of economic action”

Barbara Beer said: “The various actors of the Rheinwald and Alta Mesolcina must be advised and accompanied in planning their sustainable development. Common problems and challenges need to be tackled together."

“People and nature must be placed at the center of economic action. In this way, natural resources will be preserved in the long term, a high quality of life and a more efficient economy will be achieved”, followed by the head of the "San Bernardino Lab" as well as a teacher at the Graubünden Pedagogical High School.

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San Bernardino Lab: the famous town of San Bernardino is a fraction of the Grisons municipality of Mesocco in Switzerland
The famous town of San Bernardino is a fraction of the Grisons municipality of Mesocco in Switzerland

The positive experiences of 2020 extended to training and natural and cultural heritage

The focus is on topics such as the further development of training projects need economic character, the management of natural goods and cultural heritage worthy of protection or the conversion and renewal of infrastructures.

in research projects, which will be launched jointly, solutions to concrete challenges will be sought.

Qualified collaborators, male and female students from the three universities will take part in them.

Regional actors will be able to commission higher education institutions to work on applied research projects and acquire important knowledge.

For their part, the students will be able to gain practical experience, learning to work in an interdisciplinary way and getting in touch with potential employers in the region.

The first positive experiences have been collected thanks to the pilot project "'San Bernardino Lab' training and development project", which has already been active since 2020.

With the involvement of students from the PHGR, specific bilingual teaching offers were developed.

They will affect every subject with an accessible website to schools and all interested persons on paradisea.ch.

Furthermore, a valuable network and the Paradisea association have been created, on the basis of which the newly inaugurated “San Bernardino Lab” can be developed.

The exchange with the population of the region will also be supported and further strengthened through events and offers continuous training.

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San Bernardino Lab: the beginning of the collaboration in the "San Bernardino Lab" was marked on 4 July 2023 by a symbolic walk that involved the hospice of the same name
The beginning of the collaboration in the "San Bernardino Lab" was marked on 4 July 2023 by a symbolic walk that involved the hospice of the same name and involved Jon Domenic Parolini, Councilor of State of the Canton of Grisons, Piera Furger, representative of Mesocco, Barbara Beer, head of the laboratory and teacher at the Graubünden Pedagogical Higher School, Mattia Ciocco, municipal representative of Mesocco and Soazza, Christoph Zeitz, municipal representative of Sufers and Rheinwald, as well as Franco Gervasoni, Director General of the University School of Italian-speaking Switzerland, Jürg Kessler, Rector of the Graubünden University of Applied Sciences, and Gian-Paolo Curcio, Rector of the Graubünden Higher Education School

The academic and convinced satisfaction of Franco Gervasoni, Jürg Kessler and Ulrike Zika

"Collaboration between universities of applied sciences and higher pedagogical schools of the two cantons will make it possible to address many issues related to the development of the San Bernardino region from multiple cultural and disciplinary perspectives, strengthening interactions between the academic world and civil society", argued Franco Gervasoni, Director General of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland.

Jürg Kessler, Rector of the Graubünden University of Applied Sciences, added: “As an undergraduate school, we are inherently curious. It is therefore an important success factor to be able to learn from all partners and to apply the knowledge available in the region to other projects outside Graubünden”.

And yet: “As SUP Graubünden we want to contribute to the development of the region. For this reason we are committed to collaborating in a structured and reinforced way with it".

This is echoed by Ulrike Zika, Head of the Development Department in the Alpine Region and Member of the Management Board of the Graubünden University of Applied Sciences.

He says: "With the 'San Bernardino Lab' the collaboration between science and practice is strengthened to find sustainable solutions to regional challenges and contribute to the development of the region in the Alpine space".

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San Bernardino Lab: in the background the Pan de Zucher in an image taken from the east of the locality of San Bernardino in the Swiss canton of Grisons
In the background the Pan de Zucher in an image taken from the east of the locality of San Bernardino in the Swiss canton of Grisons

A debut marked by the living laboratories of Ilanz (Surselva Lab) and Stampa (Bregaglia Lab)

After the living laboratories of Ilanz (Surselva Lab) and Stampa (Bregaglia Lab), with the "San Bernardino Lab" the exchange between science and practice.

Thanks to the collaboration of the three universities, it is now possible to promote cooperation at the tertiary level even beyond the cantonal border.

The financing of the “San Bernardino Lab” is secured for the next three to five years and the collaboration partners provide theirs monetary contribution annually on an equal basis.

The living laboratory activities will take place in the former San Bernardino school building.

The strategically favorable location facilitates cooperation with the municipalities and universities involved.

Furthermore, the bilingualism of the regions is a characteristic of the "San Bernardino Lab" and must be experienced as such.

The cooperation between the Rheinwald and the Alta Mesolcina strengthens the intercultural understanding and the cohesion of Graubünden across the linguistic border.

For Gian-Paolo Curcio, Rector of the Graubünden Higher Education School, “with the living laboratory as a specific research infrastructure, the municipalities and universities involved make an active and essential contribution to the challenges of society”.

And yet: “In this context, it is about addressing issues such as sustainability, multilingualism, diversity, urbanization or digital transformation. The extensive knowledge and the evident skills of the actors involved constitute an ideal starting point for an inter- and transdisciplinary approach".

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San Bernardino Lab: the San Bernardino Pass is an alpine pass at 2066 meters above sea level in the Canton of Grisons in Switzerland, located on the watershed between the Po and the Rhine basins
The San Bernardino Pass is an Alpine pass at 2066 meters above sea level in the Canton of Graubünden in Switzerland, located on the watershed between the Po and Rhine basins