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CNR: Alamanacco della Scienza


N. 17 - 6 nov 2012
ISSN 2037-4801

International info   a cura di Cecilia Migali


Cnr: a key player thanks to Ict

According to Cnr president Luigi Nicolais, Ict will play a strategic role in terms of: paperless document flows, simplifying bureaucratic procedures, promoting knowledge sharing and raising the public image of researchers and their work. Luigi Nicolais was born in Naples in 1942. He is Emeritus Professor of Polymer Technology and of Sciences and Technologies of Materials at the University of Naples "Federico II", where he was Director of the Department of Materials Engineering and Production, president of the graduate program in Materials Engineering and of the PhD course in Biomaterials, as well as being a member of the Academic Senate and President of the science and technologies park. He is a member of numerous academies and research institutions, and at the Cnr he founded and directed the Institute for Composite and Biomedical Materials. From 2006 to 2008 he was Minister for Reforms and Innovation in the Civil Service, was later vice president of the Seventh Committee on Culture, Science and Education of the Chamber of Deputies. He has been president of the Italian National Research Council since 2012.

Which role will Ict play in relaunching the Cnr?

Since I took office as President of the Cnr, I have stated that Ict is an essential tool to improve efficiency. Ict will be extremely useful for a radical overhaul of procedures and of all our research activities. It will also increase the visibility and recognition of the work of all of us. An It infrastructure that is open, participatory, and shared reduces the obstacles and red tape that tend to be a burden in the lives of researchers and research personnel. Thus developing new ideas and new opportunities for growth for the entire Cnr is key to my mandate as President.

So a large network that serves the Cnr?

Yes, but not just that. It should revamp processes and make them more rapid, and it should lead to a more efficient organization, as well as reducing costs and processing times. Let me give you a small but significant example that we wanted to give at the very top of the Cnr, the board now works in a totally paperless framework. The networks are not only a tool but can also help us to behave differently, to open up to the outside, we can facilitate new ways of 'thinking', as well as work. Information technology will help us provide all those who work at the Cnr with new ideas, new motivation, greater job satisfaction. It will support collaborations and the sharing of knowledge and skills, which in a distinctly multidisciplinary body such as ours is an absolute necessity.

One of your objectives concerns the 'image' of the Cnr. Why is this important for you?

For a facility that produces knowledge, disclosure is not an option but an institutional duty, and is also a legal requirement set out in our statute. I think we need to put a lot of energy into raising the image of the Cnr, its role and its importance for economic growth and for Italian culture. We have several projects in the pipeline. The Cnr's website (www.cnr.it) is being revamped which is a long and complex process that will allow us to communicate who we are and what we do with greater visibility and transparency. In 2013, our 90th anniversary will be a great opportunity to open the Cnr to the public and citizens, other research institutions and non-operators of economics and politics. So for next year, we thus hope to provide a web TV with a vibrant and innovative format, in which the Institute of Informatics and Telematics is playing the key role.

The relaunch of research, however, is not just for the Cnr, even though it is the most important public body in our country.

Exactly! I would like all researchers, not just ours, to go back to being proud of their work, and for there to be a renewed climate of trust and appreciation. This is essential to ensure that the government does not penalize the sector in terms of funding and regulatory support. Especially in these difficult times, research, innovation and development should be firmly back on the public agenda, by raising awareness that the resources allocated to research are an investment and not an expense.

Although you've had many different roles in your career, do you still see yourself very much as a researcher?

My career started in 1969 at the National Research Council. Research at that time was recognized to be of great importance - the economic and social progress of the country depended on it. I would like to rekindle this awareness, and not just with regard to public funding. Many businesses seem to have left innovation aside, tempted by relocating their production sites and reducing production costs with the idea that this would enable them to compete on the market. This has happened at a time when the difficulties of the international economy have also led to financial speculation, which in turn has created a vicious circle. Private funding for research in Italy is way below average and far from Eu goals. If we managed to reduce our bureaucracy and improve our efficiency this should also mean that we can get closer to the world of industry and business. This will also help the new director general, Paolo Annunziato, who has considerable experience in the field.

How important is the Internet Festival in terms of highlighting the role of the Cnr, and Pisa as being the birthplace of Ict in Italy?

I know that the first edition achieved considerable success, which I'm sure will be confirmed in the second edition, thanks to the increasing commitment of the partners and Iit-Cnr Registro.it, who are the creators of the festival. It is an important event, as well as the opportunities for knowledge exchange and cross-comparison. It also acts as a stimulus to highlight the skills and creativity that the Cnr has in this field. Informatics and telematics in Italy originated in Pisa and the Cnr was the cradle of this development. This was where the first link in the net was created, this was where the first commercial electronic computer was designed and developed. Then there is the Registry of Italian domains, a service for the country that has been conducted through the Institute of Informatics and Telematics for the past 25 years. It is no accident that cnr.it was the first name in the Italian network. Then of course there is the role of a founding member of the Cnr in the Garr network, whose statute has recently been renewed ensuring the development of additional infrastructure and services until 2040.

The Cnr is very busy in terms of networks and the Internet of the future.

The department that brings together Ict has several institutions with extensive experience and considerable international prestige. In this sector we are carrying out research in areas ranging from components to networks and telecommunications, and information technology. Based on this technological expertise and integrated scientific knowledge, we are in a position to understand the complexity of the digital challenge, to forecast changes, and to grasp opportunities. Among the most recent initiatives by the Cnr, for example, is the Digital Library of Science and Technology project in partnership with the Department for the Digitization of the Civil Service. A joint effort between several institutions is the best solution for developing innovative and competitive services, with the underlying aim of promoting the dissemination of culture and knowledge.

Claudio Barchesi