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Students have started arriving at Apple’s first-ever iOS Developer Academy in Italy

A few years ago, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer summed up the importance of developers better than anyone could ever do when he said simply: “Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers.”

While we’re yet to see Apple boss Tim Cook bouncing around the stage proclaiming the same message with equally sweaty enthusiasm, the company is nevertheless also of the belief that developers are indeed the lifeblood of any platform.

This week in the Italian city of Naples, for example, the tech titan has opened its first-ever iOS Developer Academy, aiming to teach 200 mostly Italian students how to create awesome apps for Apple’s mobile devices.

It’s the result of a €10 million (about $11.2m) partnership between Apple and the University of Naples Federico II, which is running the course, the Guardian reported.

The academy is being championed by the Italian government, too, which says it’ll help dispel the myth that Italy’s less well-off southern regions are unattractive to investors.

The initiative generated much excitement when it was announced earlier this year, with more than 4,000 hopefuls taking an online test and interview in an effort to win a place. Only 200 were selected, though next year the course size will double. All of the participating students will receive the latest iPhone, iPad, and MacBook to help them get stuck into their work.

Aiming to equip the students with the necessary skills to build a hit iOS app, the course will teach everything there is to know about Apple’s mobile platform while covering areas such as coding, app design, and startup creation.

Related: 100 awesome iPhone apps for 2016

Keen to create a comfortable learning environment for the students, Apple has designed a rest and collaboration area that takes up half of the space in the large classroom.

“Apple thinks that all of these activities, learning and rest and so on, have to stay very close to each other, because this is the best way to ensure that the concepts are absorbed and understood very well,” Leopoldo Angrisani, a professor at the university who’s helped to establish the course, told the Guardian.

Tim Cook announced in August that Apple has paid more than $50 billion to its global army of developers since the iOS app store opened its virtual doors in 2008.

The Cupertino-based company has previously said it wants to take its academy program to other countries around the world, all part of a growing effort to ensure the healthiness and longevity of its burgeoning app store.