The alignment between national and European planning and the active involvement of key players in the research system – central and regional administrations, scientific community, main stakeholders – are the cornerstones of the methodology adopted for the development of the new PNR, the National Research Programme for the seven-year period 2021-2027.
The PNR 2021-2027 co-planning process, culminated in a public consultation open to main stakeholders and citizens, produced a programme document that both focuses on the needs and specificities of the national context and is consistent with the European research system in which Italy plays an important role.
Developed under the supervision of the Ministry of University and Research, the PNR 2021-2027 is divided into system priorities, major research and innovation areas and their respective areas of intervention, missions and national plans.
The Programme revolves around nine system priorities: invest in young people; strengthen fundamental research and encourage interdisciplinary research; promote internationalization; enhance the circulation of knowledge between research and the production system; support the widespread growth of the research system; ensure the centrality of the individual in innovation; ensure shared governance at national, European and international level; explore new research horizons. Identified through the collaboration between all state administrations and the main stakeholders in the sector, the system priorities are built around targeted goals.
The framework of the PNR 2021-2027 was also inspired by the new EU Framework Programme Horizon Europe (link) which identifies six clusters for global challenges and European industrial competitiveness. Six major research and innovation areas reflect the European clusters and are adapted to the specificities of the Italian scientific and technological system: Health; Humanities, Creativity, Social Transformation, Inclusive Society; Social Systems Safety; Digital, Industry, Aerospace; Climate, Energy, Sustainable Mobility; Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Environment.
The intersection between the system priorities and the major research and innovation areas – further divided into areas of intervention – led to proposals for shared actions, linked to specific priorities, and provided indications of the expected impact of research in the various areas.
The new National Research Programme also adopts mission-oriented research policies: ambitious scientific objectives which aim to respond to the most pressing societal issues and show citizens the benefits that research and innovation bring to their lives and communities.
The PNR 2021-2027 also includes two national plans: the National Programme for Research Infrastructures (PNIR) and the National Plan for Open Science
The PNIR is aimed at strengthening and consolidating research infrastructures of national and European importance.
The focus of the Plan is on Research Infrastructures (RIs) defined by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) as facilities, resources or services used by research communities to conduct top-level research activities in their domains, without the need for any institutional or national affiliation. Specifically, RIs differ from technology platforms, laboratory networks, databases and libraries in their ability to provide open access for the entire public and private, academic and industrial scientific community through clearly identifiable and validated practices.
Starting from an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the RI system carried out through the National Programme for Research Infrastructures 2014-2020, the PNR 2021-2027 outlines the main actions and priorities for the new PNIR.
Specifically, the main actions included in the National Plan for Research Infrastructures 2021-2027 concern: creating and raising awareness of an RI network; strengthening access policies; identifying RIs as a tool for research activities in the PNR areas and for participation in European partnerships; acknowledging the role of RIs in innovation, in the relations with industry and in the development of technology infrastructures; using RIs in postgraduate training; identifying funding allocation methods.
The PNR 2021-2027 also states that the definition of national priorities for new or existing national research infrastructures must take into account a number of fundamental criteria aimed at enhancing the value of project proposals: scientific excellence; socio-economic impact; critical analysis of history and prospects; completeness of access policies; international relations and pan-European relevance; political commitment and financial support from participating countries; governance, management and human resources management; financial aspects.
The National Plan for Open Science supports the transition towards an open, transparent and inclusive system that guarantees the widest possible access to research data and results, with important benefits for the scientific community and society as a whole.