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The latest edition of the Report on research and innovation in Italy shows worrying numbers about the link between culture, media, science and innovation.

In the field of scientific research, Italy continues to be at the bottom of the rankings compared to other countries in Europe, where the ratio between investment in R&D and GDP is almost 2%.

Even researchers, therefore the workforce of the research, are still below the other European countries, mainly due to the aging of the Italian population.

Italy contributes 12.5% to the European Union budget but only gets 8.7% of the total research funding. In particular, the situation in Sicily is even more worrying. Only 1% of European resources are addressed to Sicily.


The CNR (National Research Council) discussed the research situation in Italy together with various institutions. In particular, experts talked about the essential problems, the budget and strategy that are currently inadequate to face modernity. Italy remains a country unable to metabolise the problem and properly react.

In particular, Sicily is the last in Europe in investments for innovation, despite the national Digital Agenda plan, aimed at making Italian companies and technological infrastructures more competitive.

Appropriations and resources allocated to the South

Italy has shown difficulties in the ability to spend funds on ICT, Research and Innovation, despite having one of the highest endowments. The resources available from the 2014-2020 ERDF Fund amount to 6 billion for research and innovation and 2.3 billion for the development of ICT. There are the highest figures after Poland and Spain. But nevertheless, the amount of investments reported and used is 828 million.

In this negative scenario, Sicily is characterised by its extreme delay.

The sums allocated for research and innovation and for ICT amounted to € 749.8 million, which makes Sicily the third region for appropriations. It is the only region which spent little or nothing, despite the fact that Sicily is one of the regions that planned major investments together with Puglia and Campania.

Cases of technological innovation in Sicily

One of the biggest problems is that Sicily is not attractive for foreign investments and the Italy Startup Visa program of the Ministry of Economic Development for foreign investors has too few candidates, none of which concern Sicily, which still appears unattractive for who wants to launch a new business.

More than half of the 23 million provided by Mise (Italian Ministry of Economic and Development) go to Sicily for the creation of a platform of innovative technologies for not-invasive treatments in radiotherapy and robotic surgery, presented by the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Research G. Giglio of Cefalù.

Speaking of which, the new organizational model of the Regional Transplant Centre has been recently presented in Palermo, divided into two areas.

The coordination and governance area is entrusted with:

  • Regional planning of donation and transplantation activities;
  • Institutional relationships, both regional and national;
  • The application of regional quality and clinical governance programs and of the National Transplant centre;
  • The management of training programs for medical staff about organ and tissue donation and transplantation;
  • Management of communication activities for the promotion of organ and tissue donation;
  • Management of the improvement and alignment actions indicated by the research centre, clinical risk, training, application of innovation, research and development programs;
  • The management of the regional transplant information system;
  • The management of the regional registry of patients undergoing dialysis treatment.

The operational coordination area of the organ and tissue donation and transplantation process performs the following functions:

  • Collection of reports from potential donors from hospitals in the regional network;
  • Assessment of suitability and safety of the proposed organs and tissues;
  • Allocation of bodies for the regional program;
  • Coordination of the transport of organs and collection and transplant team, and of patients awaiting transplantation;
  • Return of donation results and information to the Centre;
  • Management of the list of patients awaiting transplantation at the centres of the Region;
  • Reporting of serious adverse events and reactions.


Over 130 million funds have been reserved for calls for technological innovation and research.
They aim at:

  • Promote the launch and territorial rooting of an innovation-based production fabric, through a system of services concerning the physical, organizational and commercial development of small and medium-sized regional enterprises, through subsidies in the form of a capital contribution;
  • Strengthen innovative capacity with particular reference to the technological advancement of products, production systems, organizational systems of companies and production diversification, through the contamination of technologies and their applications also related to design and planning. Other objectives are the promotion and consolidation of business networks, the inclusion of researchers with high technical-scientific profiles;
  • Develop prototypes and demonstrators, with application at industrial level, through capital grants for industrial research and experimental development.

New innovation strategies in the south

The mission of the Plan for the South, presented by the Italian Prime Minister and the ministers Provenzano and Azzolina, is to support the south Italy to become more connected and inclusive for young people, without neglecting ecological and innovation aspects.

The ten-year project is based on an idea of the South in 2030 and aims to create a new development strategy. It includes investments dedicated to education, the fight against child educational poverty, the strengthening of school buildings, the extension of the No Tax area, the attraction of researchers to the South and the modernisation of infrastructures.

The phases of the Plan for the South 2030

The Plan is divided into two phases:

  • In the three-year period 2020-2022, the impact of the measures provided for in the Budget Law 2020 is expected to be maximised, which will enable to increase public investments in the south;
  • In the 2021-27 period is expected greater National and European cohesion.

The new method is based on strengthening the central control, on cooperation between central and local administrations, on the activation of national competence centres and on the use of central purchasing bodies and contracting stations, on the simplification of the PSC (an Italian document containing the security and coordination plan) management procedures and on active partnership.

The plan also includes actions for the proximity of places, the relaunch of the national strategy for internal areas and the regeneration of urban contexts, as well as the recovery and redevelopment of the historic centre of Palermo.

The circular economy and attention to young people and women

The plan also focuses on the ecological change through a circular economy experimentation, the enhancement of sustainable transport, supply chain and district contracts in the agri-food sector and forest management.

As regards innovation, the project supports technology transfer and the strengthening of networks between research and business, as well as the international vocation of the economy and southern society. The plan also includes the adoption of a strategy that strengthens the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and development cooperation programs.

The South Plan 2030 also provides for measures to strengthen the competitiveness of the production system and the enhancement of employment opportunities for young men and women (incentive for female employment, tax credit for investments in the South, “Cresci al Sud” and “Southern Protocol ” in collaboration with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Invitalia).

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