(AGI) Trieste, July 28 - Trieste is hosting an Innovation Forum attended by institutional representatives, researchers, and professors hailing from Italy and the United States. The Forum brings prestige to the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, as was highlighted by Italy's Undersecretary for Economic Development, Ivan Scalfarotto. "Friuli Venezia Giulia is a place for innovation, and if it was considered a border area before, now it's at the centre of Europe," he stated. Mr Scalfarotto took part in the opening meeting dedicated to the challenges of innovation and to the exchange of experiences between the U.S. and Italy through the privileged gate of Friuli Venezia Giulia. He also noted that Italy's trade with the U.S. increased by 18.8 percent in 2015, hitting record levels of revenue. The first few months of 2016 "were slightly negative, but we're working hard", he added. "Italy is food, fashion, and furniture, but we're also famous for other things. Not everybody knows that at the top of our export list is machinery, which means technology." Further data was provided at the meeting by Giovanni Da Pozzo, the deputy president of Italy's Union of Chambers of Commerce (Unioncamere). He said there are some 3,000 Italian subsidiary companies in the U.S., which together employ 130,000 people and generate 46 billion euros in revenue. Tourism is also an important factor: over 3 million U.S. tourists visit Italy each year, with an increase of over 9 percent in 2015. Italy and the U.S. have "very close ties in terms of culture, universities, innovation, business, and the economy, and this bond is always getting stronger," Mr Da Pozzo affirmed. Friuli Venezia Giulia has organised 60 events in the U.S. since 2014, with over 400 companies taking part. Miroslav Veskovic, who will represent the European Commission's Joint Research Centre during the Innovation Forum, will play a specific role in strengthening cooperation with American partners. Mr Veskovic highlighted the joint activities developed with the Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) after an ad hoc summit in 2014. "Today, the U.S. and Italy can work even further to improve their mutual collaboration," he stated. (AGI). .