The Ministry of University and Research has published on its website a call regarding the creation of a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 14 large partnerships extended to universities, research centres and companies in Italy. The total investment of 1.61 billion euro, at least 40% of which is to be made in the regions of Southern Italy, is part of Mission 4 “Education and Research” – Component 2 “From research to business” of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) and aims to finance basic research projects which will strengthen national research chains and promote their participation in strategic European and global value chains.
The call is only open to state universities and public research organizations supervised by the MUR and the proposals must concern the creation of extended partnerships having a Hub&Spoke governance structure. The initiative is intended to fund PhD programmes and fundamental and applied research activities, projects to support the creation and development of research start-ups and spin-offs, training activities organized by universities in synergy with companies, particularly SMEs, in order to reduce the mismatch between the skills required by businesses and those offered by universities.
Partnerships must cover the following themes identified in the MUR Guidelines issued in October 2021: Artificial Intelligence; Energy scenarios of the future; Environmental natural and anthropic risks; Quantum science and technology; Humanities and cultural heritage; Innovative diagnostics and therapies in precision medicine; Cybersecurity; Consequences and challenges of ageing ; Economic and financial sustainability of systems and territories; Models for sustainable food; Circular and sustainable Made-in-Italy; Neuroscience and neuropharmacology; Emerging infectious diseases; Telecommunications of the future.
The Space Activities theme (point 15 of the Guidelines) will be supported through a call funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) having similar procedure, implementation timeframe, project proposal requirements and evaluation criteria as this call.Project proposals for the creation of extended partnerships can be submitted exclusively online via the Gea portal from 12:00 on 6 April 2022 to 12:00 on 13 May 2022. For any queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, the Ministry has announced that the submission deadlines for the previous 4 calls for expression of interest launched at the end of 2021 regarding the funding of large supply chain research projects have expired.
With regard to the call for proposals for the creation of 5 national centres for frontier research in five specific areas, 5 proposals were received for an investment of more than 2 billion euro compared to the 1.6 billion euro available for the call. Of the 2 billion euro requested, the estimated costs in the southern regions exceed 870 million euro, approximately 43% of the total.
With regard to the expression of interest for the creation of Innovation Ecosystems at local, regional and supra-regional level, 15 applications were received for a total of approximately 1.9 billion euro of investment, compared to 1.3 billion available. Of the 15 proposals received, 12 of which will be funded, 6 are in the southern regions. In response to the first call concerning research infrastructures, having a budget of 1.08 billion euro, 39 proposals were received for a total of over 1.8 billion euro, 49% of which in the southern regions.
Finally, in response to the call concerning the funding with 500 million euro of at least 10 Technological Infrastructures of Innovation, 25 project proposals were received, of which 17 for the creation of new infrastructures and 8 for the modernization of existing infrastructures. Overall, the costs of the project proposals amount to over 700 million euro.
“These calls are a bet on the future,” said the Minister of University and Research, Maria Cristina Messa. “The public and private research system has responded to the calls for proposals in a responsible and extremely proactive manner. The entire country got involved. The specific attention paid to the South of Italy was well received, with participation in all calls exceeding 40% of all proposals. All the proposals will now be evaluated scientifically by international experts,” added the Minister, “and this is something new. The selection will be based on the merit of the proposals, from their scientific quality to their long-term sustainability. With regard to infrastructures, we have received 64 proposals and we have to select around 30. As for the National Centres and Innovation Ecosystems, there will be strong competition between the projects submitted in terms of amount of funding that will be allocated to each project. These are all excellent conditions for the development of the research and innovation system in our country”.
The selection of the projects eligible for funding involves a formal-administrative investigation by the Ministry. Subsequently, various panels of international experts will carry out a technical-scientific assessment of the project proposals. Once the projects have been selected, a negotiation phase will take place and individual agreements will be signed by the end of June 2022.