BMW Group Joins our Innovation Project in South Tyrol

In Bolzano lies NOI Techpark – where our European offices are hosted – the innovation district of South Tyrol where companies, research institutes, universities, and startups collaborate on pioneering projects and solutions inspired by nature in the Green, Food & Health, Digital, and Automotive / Automation sectors. It’s a place that offers not only advanced infrastructure, evidenced by the 52 scientific laboratories within the hub, but also high-level expertise, with over 1,200 highly qualified individuals working together to shape a more sustainable future. These are principles that also MINI shares, motivating the link in between the two entities over the development of an innovation project. The New All Electric MINI Countryman has been the ideal travel companion on a journey from Milan to Bolzen, exploring the project we built and dedicated to sustainability.

Official video of the experience produced by BMW Group

From here arises the desire to tell a story, the story of two entities from distinct worlds united by common values, embarking on a journey together with a clear focus: people and sustainability. MINI has a longstanding claim, “Big Love,” which has remained true to itself since the brand’s relaunch in 2001 under the BMW Group. It embodies a positive attitude towards life, speaking of inclusion, innovation, and sustainability.

We connected our venture Emotitech with MINI and NOI Techpark to implement a research and development project named “Urban Shield.”

Research conducted by Emotitech has led to the development of an innovative painting process designed to enhance roadside surfaces with public artworks and color studies that can last decades without deteriorating. This project not only beautifies the urban environment but also improves hygiene and reduces street pollution, thereby enhancing citizens’ quality of life. Emotitech conducted extensive research on nanotechnologies and application processes, defining a unique chemical and process combination capable of integrating the best performance features of various elements, associated for the first time.

Dr. Henry “Hoby” Wedler, PhD in Chemistry, elaborates on the process and testing carried out in the laboratories at NOI Techpark in Bolzano, South Tyrol.

Thanks to this innovation, cities will be able to regenerate concrete structures, large roadside walls, and numerous other artifacts, making citizen transit not only more pleasant but also more environmentally sustainable, while simultaneously reducing maintenance costs.

The colors of the paints, which typically fade within a few years or months, will now endure for decades thanks to these innovative materials, making concrete resistant to weathering and aggressive elements such as de-icing salt used during winter months.

The painting cycle was defined through rigorous laboratory testing. For protection and durability, the analysis and testing began with various combinations of polyurethane paints based on fluorinated resins. These paints form a dense protective network on the concrete surface, waterproofing and protecting it for decades. For sustainability, the properties of photovoltaic paints with titanium dioxide were also tested. These nanotechnology-based paints help reduce air pollutants through a water and CO2 catalyzing process. Tests recorded significant reductions in particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5), nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides, components conventionally known as “smog.” The final phase defined a chemical formulation from which a unique painting cycle was developed, capable of integrating the best technical characteristics and optimizing performance. Tests were conducted at the renowned Laimburg and EURAC laboratories located within NOI Techpark.

Emotitech, an innovative company specializing in designing empathic experiences, studies people’s emotions through the science of perception and the use of biometric data. The results of this innovation project will enable the company to design and implement urban regeneration interventions through color studies that make people happier and safer, transforming the most peripheral areas of our cities from bleak and dreary to lively and welcoming, enriched by human creativity touched by science and technology.

“NOI”: the art intervention of Artist Luca Font, curated by me

To complement the paint research and development project I suggested the creation of a public artwork by renowned artist Luca Font on the surfaces of the main entrance ramp of NOI Techpark.

Luca Font stands out as one of the main figures in Italy’s graffiti and street art scene, an internationally recognized graphic artist whose visual universe includes tattoos, paintings, walls, and illustrations. His production is characterized by a constant search for visual synthesis, combining minimalism with expressiveness. Through his unique stylistic signature, Luca Font’s works depict imaginary urban landscapes that are magnetic and enigmatic at the same time. The power of lines and color shades transmits to viewers a vitality and overwhelming energy.

The urban art installation Luca Font created for MINI at NOI Techpark is named “NOI” and distinguishes itself by reinterpreting the architectural lines of the surrounding buildings through an essential and vibrant geometric vision.

With a skillful interplay of overlapping shapes and colors, Font conveys the essence of the spaces and architectures surrounding the installation, describing a place of continuous experimentation and imagination. The geometric forms permeating the intervention are carefully designed to smoothly guide visitors along the underground parking ramp. This dynamic and engaging design creates a harmonious dialogue between the artwork and the surrounding space, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the sensory experience offered by art.

Font’s chosen colors were selected from MINI’s visual identity campaign and resonate best with the technological park’s identity. Green represents nature and sustainability, blue represents the scientific process, pink represents human creativity, and orange represents the spark of innovation. The iconic white and black colors of NOI Techpark add further depth and meaning.

Thus, the artwork integrates organically into its surrounding context.

This initiative embodies another fundamental value of MINI, urban regeneration, through a fascinating example of street art. Furthermore, this permanent artistic installation will serve as a testbed to demonstrate the long-term durability characteristics of the innovative painting cycle, the protective capacity of concrete, and the environmental impact, including the reduction of air pollutants.

I was pleased to include Atlante Energy, a subsidiary of the Taiwanese owned NHOA Group known for its global leadership in delivering clean energy solutions worldwide. Atlante Energy specializes in Energy Storage, E-Mobility, and EV Fastcharging networks. Additionally, the local South Tyrolean partner Alpitronic, renowned for their Hypercharger line of DC fast chargers, combines exceptional engineering with elegant Italian design, contributing significantly to the electrification efforts across Europe.

This are some of the press coverage received by the initiative: