A cura di MIUR - Direzione Generale per il coordinamento la promozione e la valorizzazione della ricerca

Special Programmes

The Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) supports, encourages and finances research excellence and the dissemination of scientific culture by promoting Italian participation in European and international research programmes.

Below we describe some of the lines of action and special programmes in which Italy is actively involved in its attempts to encourage research in sectors of strategic importance and promote the dissemination of the knowledge generated by this research:

+ National antarctic research programme
Name of funding source
National antarctic research programme (Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide - PNRA)

Context
The PNRA was created by Italian Law no. 284/1985, with MIUR placed in charge of coordinating Italian research in the Antarctic. Since then, successive articles of legislation for the authorization of funding have ensured Italian participation in the Antarctic Treaty, which was introduced in 1959 and entered into effect in 1961. This Treaty regulates the operations of the countries present on the continent.

Objectives
Antarctica is the only continent which remains largely unexplored. Due to its geographic location and physical characteristics, its distance from sources of pollution and the near-total absence of anthropic interference (i.e. caused by human presence), the Antarctic is a prime location for global planetary observation. The PNRA has been exceptionally successful in raising awareness among the public and the scientific community of the attractions of the Antarctic, drawing attention to the need to operate alongside the research activities being carried out by other countries with a presence in the Antarctic, and to the development of the advanced technology needed for exploring and studying the territory. Antarctic research addresses areas of considerable importance, such as global climate change caused by the depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect.

Activities
The research carried out by the PNRA is based on a number of scientific remits and implemented by the two scientific expeditions (called “campaigns”) which are annually dispatched to the territory, with Italy’s Mario Zucchelli station and the Franco-Italian Concordia station as their bases. The development of the PNRA is greatly dependent on cooperation at international level, in logistical as well as scientific terms, and the participation of major international bodies like the SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research). The entire Italian scientific community is involved in Antarctic research, in which it participates via the presentation of proposals which are evaluated for their scientific relevance, logistical feasibility and affordability.

Management and implementation
Under the Italian Legislative Decree of 30 September 2010:
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+ National aerospace research programme
Name of funding source
National aerospace research programme (PROgramma nazionale di Ricerche Aerospaziali - PRORA)

Context
PRORA was created in 1989 with the Italian Decree 184 with the objective of stimulating the development of infrastructure and skills for research in the field of aerospace, a sector considered as strategically important on the national and international levels.

Objectives
PRORA was formulated in response to requirements expressed by the worlds of research and industry, and the development outlook for the aeronautics and space sectors. It addresses:
  • Research and experimentation, the production and exchange of information, and the training of personnel in the aeronautics and aerospace sectors (occurring partly through Italian participation in European and international research programmes)
  • The construction and maintenance of related facilities and infrastructure.
The activities implemented as part of the programme are managed by the Italian Aerospace Research Programme  (CIRA), which works with other Italian and foreign research bodies in the pursuit of its mission.

Activity and funding
The programme was initially endowed by Italian Decree 64/1986, and has also received resources from other special and budgetary legislation, as well as contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA) and Campania Region. Subsequent legislation (Decree 46/1991) allocates additional resources, awarded on an annual basis, for the management and operating costs of the CIRA. The Italian state therefore funds PRORA via a fixed contribution for the implementation of the projects and the development of the research programmes defined on its creation, as well as an annual contribution for the management and maintenance of the CIRA: a centre which in turn contributes to (and co-finances) the programme via research and experimental contracts and services negotiated on a free-market basis. Italy’s investment in PRORA has led to the creation of three facilities which are globally unique in terms of the services they provide:
  • LISA (Aerospace Structures Impact Lab), a facility specializing in impact testing to improve survival prospects in aeroplane and helicopter crashes.
  • PWT (Plasma Wind Tunnel), a facility for simulating the extreme conditions experienced by spacecraft upon re-entry into the atmosphere.
  • IWT (Icing Wind Tunnel), a facility which carries out research on the formation of ice on the surface of aircraft and the prevention of this phenomenon in an endeavour to improve air safety.
These valuable state-owned assets are operated and managed by CIRA: and for the unique conditions and capabilities they offer, they receive applications from all over the world for the use of their test and experiment infrastructure.

Management and implementation
The programme operates under Italian Ministerial Decree 305/1998, which provides conditions for the management of the programme as a whole: from the legal as well as operational points of view. As noted above, the programme is managed and implemented by CIRA, which works in close cooperation with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and under the supervision of MIUR, in the form of a specially-appointed committee whose job is to monitor the activities of PRORA and formulate suggestions and proposals for its future activity.

Further information
PRORA has been significantly modified on two occasions: in 2000 (Legislative Decree 3/8/2000) and 2005 (Legislative Decree 24/3/2005), which implemented stricter guidelines for the activities of the CIRA and the Commission.

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+ Italian Law 6/2000: initiatives for the dissemination of scientific culture

Name of funding source
Italian Law 6/2000: initiatives for the dissemination of scientific culture

Context
Even as late as the early 1990s, no legislation existed in Italy for the dissemination of scientific culture. The legislation introduced in 1991 (Law no. 113/1991) was the first law ever passed in Italy whose purpose was to promote and offer incentives for the dissemination of knowledge in the technical and scientific sectors. The Italian parliament subsequently introduced new legislation Law no. 6/2000 which made some alterations to the earlier law while leaving its objectives substantially unchanged: i.e. to promote a widespread awareness of the importance of science and technology, and to encourage dialogue between the worlds of education, research and production.

Objectives
Pursuant to the Italian law provisions the MIUR issues calls for contributions designed to promote scientific heritage of historic interest, to promote “science cities”, vocational and refresher training for the management of science museums, and dissemination of science and technology to promote synergies between the worlds of work and production. Law 6 defines three strategic points:

  1. The appointment of an articulated national system of museums and centres dedicated to science and the history of science.
  2. The promotion of natural history museums, botanic gardens, local-interest science museums and structure of similar purpose.
  3. The adoption of the measures necessary for equipping university science museums and botanic gardens with the resources they need for effectively disseminating their work.

Activity and funding
Under the legislation, the promotion of scientific and technical culture (defined as the cultivation of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences and their derivative technologies) is funded via three mechanisms:

  • Annual contributions for projects, selected via public proceedings, for the dissemination of scientific culture. This mechanism provides assistance to small and medium projects (submitted by schools, universities, public and private museums, botanic gardens, astronomical observatories and associations) of an innovative character, whose objective is to directly involve the public in dissemination activities.
  • A three-year schedule, a funding mechanism which awards assistance to institutions, foundations, consortia and structures involved in the dissemination of scientific culture on the basis of calls for proposals.
  • Programme agreements, i.e. agreements and understandings formulated on an annual basis with government, universities and public and private bodies. By their nature, programme agreements carry greater weight – by their duration, impact and extent of funding – than annual projects. Calls for proposals are not legally required under this mechanism. Until now, proposals have been submitted by candidates on an ad hoc basis, with no restrictions on time, although in 2012 the MIUR decided for reasons of transparency to introduce calls for proposals.
Of the funds allocated every year, at least 60% are reserved for the three-year schedule and programme agreements, with the remainder assigned to annual projects.

Management
Law 6 provides for the appointment of a scientific committee monitored by the MIUR and comprising experts from the education, publishing and communication sectors, whose job is to provide consulting and coordination input for all the activities receiving funding. The powers of this committee include:
  • Selection of candidates qualifying for inclusion in the schedule for allocation of funds.
  • The three-yearly activities of assisted bodies, with annual determination of the extent of funding.
  • Which projects for the dissemination of scientific culture are to be awarded funding.
  • Proposals and criteria for the definition of the issues of common interest eligible for programme agreements.
  • The distribution of the funding allocation across the three mechanisms.
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+ Italian Ministerial Decree 44/2008: contributions to the operations of private bodies engaged in research
Name of funding source
Italian Ministerial Decree 44/2008: contributions to the operations of private bodies engaged in research 

Context
Since 2008, applications from private bodies involved in research have also been eligible for funding, as an incentive for research excellence and cooperation between research structures of diverse natures.

Objectives
Research contributes to the growth of knowledge and well-being in our country: and thus the purpose of the funding provided under Ministerial Decree 44/2008 is to promote the integration and development of research in sectors considered to be of strategic importance.

Activity and funding
Under Ministerial Decree 44/2008, a public call for proposals must be organized for the selection of candidates. A three-yearly schedule with the names of the candidates who have successfully qualified for funding is then drawn up. The allocated funds are designed to contribute to the operations of non-profit bodies whose remit is to carry out research for cultural, scientific or technical ends which have no immediate industrial or commercial applications, as well as those involved in post-graduate training.

Management
To evaluate applications, the MIUR relies on a committee of five technical-scientific experts appointed by statute for each three-year period. This committee passes its decision to the MIUR, which in conjunction with the Minister of Economy and Finance publishes the three-year schedule with the list of bodies eligible for receiving annual contributions. The size of these contributions (awarded for the duration of the schedule) depends on the total allocation provided under the national budget.

Further information
Annual allocations go to bodies which are included in the schedule and are not receiving financial assistance from other state sources with the same purpose and legal status.
Contributions are released in two packages: 50% in advance and 50% on completion, subject to the provision of an expense statement and the positive evaluation of technical-scientific reports and audits.

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