The Convenzione signed on 30 December 2020 between the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of University and Research (MUR) and the Human Technopole Foundation (HT) regulates the creation of National Facilities (NFs) at HT, to be made available to the Italian scientific community to conduct high quality research in their respective fields, independent of institutional affiliation.
The scope of application of the Convenzione includes facilities to be newly identified and implemented. More information on the facilities and activities currently under development in accordance with the HT Strategic Plan 2020-2024 can be found here.
For the purpose of the Convenzione, National Facilities are defined by applying to the national context the definition of ‘research infrastructure’ introduced by the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), i.e., facilities, resources and related services used by the scientific community to conduct top-level research in their respective fields, regardless of institutional or national affiliation.
Specific operational units, called Infrastructural Units (IU), and defined as the set of people, tools, resources, technological procedures and cutting-edge experimental protocols necessary for a specific thematic line of research, form part of each individual NF.
How are new NFs of interest identified?
The Convenzione establishes that National Facilities be identified following public consultations open to the national scientific community in two stages: the first involving selected stakeholders representing the life sciences research system, the second aimed at the entire scientific community.
The consultations are carried out by the Technical Committee (TC) provided for by the Convenzione. The TC is appointed by the Directors General for Research of the Ministry of University and Research (MUR) and of the Ministry of Health and is composed of:
- the Director of Human Technopole (Chair),
- the relevant Director Generals of MUR and of the Ministry of Health, or their delegates (Vice-Chairs),
- one of the Italian representatives in the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI),
- the Chair of the Scientific Committee of Human Technopole.
The current members of the TC are:
- Iain Mattaj, Director Human Technopole
- Gianluigi Consoli, Director General of Internationalization and Communication, Ministry of University and Research
- Giuseppe Ippolito, Director General for Research and Innovation in Healthcare, Ministry of Health
- Gelsomina Pappalardo, Italian representative in the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures
- Walter Ricciardi, Chair Scientific Committee, Human Technopole
The tasks of the TC include:
- identifying already existing research infrastructures in the Country and in Europe that are open to the national community,
- preparing the form for the collection of proposals concerning the NFs and relevant IUs to be potentially implemented,
- carrying out the first and second level consultations,
- producing a final report summarising the results of the consultations and identifying the NFs in highest demand by the national scientific community.
First level consultation
The 1st level consultation, which took place between 23 July and 30 September, involved representatives of Universities, research hospitals (IRCCS), public research organisations, industry, regions, social partners, and major third sector organisations (ETS) that conduct or fund research in the field of life sciences.
A total of 167 institutions were identified by the TC and invited to express their priorities and proposals regarding NFs to be potentially implemented at HT. Proposals were submitted through an online questionnaire, largely based on the form used by ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures) to collect proposals for the implementation of research infrastructures to be included in the European roadmap.
The aim of this first phase of consultation was to collect aggregate indications reflecting the needs shared by a large part of the community represented by the stakeholders consulted.
Overall, this initial phase of consultation allowed the identification of ‘core areas’ of NFs in high demand among Italian researchers in the relevant fields. These NFs will allow Italian researchers to access a broad range of services, from omics technologies over imaging to structural analysis.
More information on the results of the first level consultation can be found here.
Second level consultation
The Convenzione signed on December 30, 2020 between the Ministries of Economy and Finance, of Health and of University and Research and the Human Technopole Foundation governs the realization at Human Technopole of National Facilities (NFs), which must meet the definition of research infrastructure adopted by the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), i.e., facilities, resources and related services used by the scientific community to conduct high-quality research in their respective fields, independent of institutional or national affiliation.
The Convenzione provides that these NFs will be identified following a public consultation in two phases: the first engaging stakeholders representing Universities, research hospitals, Public Research Institutions, Industry, Regions, social partners, and Third Sector (charitable) entities that conduct or fund research in the life sciences, the second phase consists in collecting the views and comments of the entire scientific community on a summary of possible NFs elaborated by the Technical Committee, based on the output of the first phase.
On September 30th 2021, the first level consultation was completed. This consultation involved more than 160 stakeholders and aimed to identify the priorities of the national scientific community in terms of research infrastructures (RIs) in the field of life sciences.
Several technological facilities proposed by the participants in aggregate or individual forms were compliant with the requirements set out in the Convenzione. These proposals were further examined by the Technical Committee, taking into consideration the advice of international experts in the technological areas covered by the proposed facilities. The most important criteria were whether substantial overlap existed with National and/or European RIs, as well as with current or planned National public investments in RIs, and the magnitude of the proportion of the national scientific community potentially interested by the proposed facilities.
Overall, this first phase of consultation allowed the identification of ‘core areas’ with high demand for NFs providing access to researchers in the respective fields: 1. the OMICS domain – including genomics, single cell technologies, proteomics and metabolomics, and genome engineering; 2. the IMAGING domain – including molecular, cellular, and tissue imaging, structural biology and cryo-electron microscopy techniques; 3. the DATA HANDLING AND ANALYSIS core – which will support the two domains above including data pipeline design, first line data analysis, data storage and data sharing with the NF users and, based on demand, creating data resources for the community.
The results of the first level consultation were submitted to the national scientific community, which was invited to express its opinion on the identified core areas and to propose any motivated additions and/or deletions. The second level consultation, that was open from the 19th of April to the 31st of May 2022, confirmed that the access to the identified technologies/services was considered very important by a high proportion of the participating researchers. In fact, of the 1624 participants, 91%, 87% and 88%, respectively, indicated that the implementation of these three areas is a very high or high priority, confirming the strong demand for these services. In particular, 65% of the participants deems the offer of OMICS services a very high priority, followed by DATA HANDLING AND ANALYSIS and IMAGING with 56% and 53% of the contributors identifying them as very high priority, respectively.
A detailed description of the process and outcome of the two-stage consultation as well as the recommendations of the Technical Committee are illustrated in the Final Report, available at this link. [Please note that the file shall be opened using Adobe Reader in order to access the documents and relevant appendices (only available in English)].
1 From ESFRI Roadmap 2018 “RIs are facilities, resources or services of a unique nature, identified by European research communities to conduct and to support top-level research activities in their domains. They include major scientific equipment – or sets of instruments; knowledge-based resources like collections, archives and scientific data; e-Infrastructures, such as data and computing systems and communication networks; and any other tools that are essential to achieve excellence in research and innovation”.
Further information can be found at the following links:
– First Level public consultation summary slides
– Summary slides of the first level consultation results
For further information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org