It’s a question that has concerned Western society since the women’s liberation movement: is it really possible to be successful both at work and at home? When applied to women in the field of science, the question takes on various dimensions. We talked with Ilaria Capua, the Director of the Division of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the Istituto Zooprofilattico delle Venezie, and Member of the Italian Parliament, about this challenge, the importance teaching women leadership skills and what the world learned from the Ebola outbreak.
Research and development
Surpassed only by the United States, China and Japan for R&D allocated funds, Germany has decided to raise the biddings and has pledged around 31.6 million dollar in the next 6 years to support specials research and higher education programmes. Germany, which celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, is the most populous nation in Europe and the most important economy of the Old Continent, with 100 billion dollars spent every year in research and development.
The European Research Council (ERC) is a key element in the EU's research funding programme. "Our main aim is to push researchers to be ambitious," told us Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, president of the ERC.
The Italian technology and start-ups are having an interesting season.
How is managed the process to set up the calls of proposal in Horizon 2020? A good example of its functioning has been given by the stakeholders consultation, ended in June 2014. The consultation is the first step towards the definition of 2016-17 working program for the Societal Challenge 5, the one dealing with environmental issues.
Good news for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that aim to bring their own scientific research at an international level.
The US Navy has been funding for many years a collaboration with CNR scientific research in the field of marine industry. On July 23, at the Marine Technology Research Institute (INSEAN) in Rome, the Admiral Matthew L. Klunder of the US Navy delegation has visited the Italian Institute in order to further strengthen this scientific collaboration.
To understand the reasons behind such cooperation, we have talked with Emilio Campana, the INSEAN director.
Waste. Water. Green Economy. Those are the main focuses of the recent Horizon 2020 Work Programme that has been adopted on December 10th 2013 and definitively updated last July 22nd with the parts that relate to 2015.
Climate change today is a reality. It involves lot of problems, the toughest ones being the loss of biodiversity, the rise of sea levels and the increase of temperatures. But there are also other less known phenomena connected with the global warming. One of them is the urban heat island, which is induced by materials composing the urban environment and involves numerous cities across Europe. Cement retains heat, sewer systems carry water away quickly, impeding the cooling, and heat is trapped between surfaces because of the so-called canyon effect.
What the economic crisis has clearly shown is that Europe cannot afford its economic growth with low R&D manufacturing products. Science and enterprises must merge into hi-tech outcomes to become markets leaders. The European Union is pushing a lot on the bioeconomy sector, namely businesses based on biotechnology. But what is exactly bioeconomy? Is it so important nowadays in Europe? And what is the situation in Italy?
What is a bioeconomy
A specific call of Horizon 2020 promotes cooperation between Europe and Africa for scientific research, funding project for €80 billion between 2014 and 2020: €24.5 billion for strengthening research in science, €22.6 billion for strengthening industrial leadership in innovation and €31 billion addressed to societal challenges, like global warming, sustainable transport, food or renewal energy.
Nowadays, over two-thirds of European workers in manufacturing are employed in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This is a considerable percentage that UE must consider in its decision concerning funding for Research and Development. One of the most significant aim of SMEs is to offer a valid answer to changing production needs that are developing more and more quickly in our contemporary society, and robotics represents in this sense one of the major challenges.
Although the scientific performance of the Western Balkan countries (WBC) has improved in recent years, the lack of human resources, research funding and facilities, as well as a weak regulatory regime, are the main obstacles to an improvement of the situation. At the same time, in 2012 the Western Balkans have required 38 patents in the United States, compared to an average of 25 patents for universities and leading research institutes in the U.S.
The condition of Italian research is far from being positive. From some perspectives, it may be described as dramatic. The lack of financial resources, aggravated by the indiscriminate cuts that public research continues to suffer, is not the only issue of the Italian research system, which clearly needs a strong intervention in order to save it from the decline it is running towards. But how and where to intervene?
Despite Italy investing so little in research, Italian researches are holding on, at least if we consider the number of cited publications at international level. What is critical, however, is the following step: from research to industrial applications, as shown from patents, start-ups and other indicators statistics. Yet, it is the combination of research, innovation, industrial dynamism and capability of winning new markets that can really “re-start” our Country, recovering employment and withstanding the more and more intense international competition.
Agroindustrial is one of the sector that most contributes to the positive imagine of the “made in Italy”. Together with the metalworking and textile-manufacturer, it is one of the principal sectors in terms of turnover - exceeding 180 billion of euro, 12% of the national GDP – amount of companies and occupation, with almost two million people employed.
Adriano Buzzati Traverso will be remembered as scientist, professor and, above all, as manager of a research with no boundaries: during his frequent journeys abroad - on this or the other side of the Atlantic - he rapidly realized that bioscientific research in Italy had to get rid of any provincialism, empowering the exchanges with more advanced countries. Establishing the International Laboratory of Genetics and Biop
What can be simpler than a pencil? What dark secrets are hidden in the traces it leaves behind? Why should we begin to start studying graphite, which is the heart of the pencil? Why should scientists studying the physics of matter waste their time on something so common and ordinary? And yet physics is becoming increasingly interested in pencils. There are those who are using graphite and adhesive tape to try to find new material and those who are trying to understand how to use a pencil to get something that might end up in the display screen of a smart phone.
Who said that research does not pay? That this is not the case is demonstrated by the Human Genome Project, launched by the U.S. in 1999 at a cost of slightly less than $ 4 billion in 10 years but that, to date, has yielded $ 796 billions in business activities and has created 310,000 new jobs.
Researchers working at universities or in independent research centers cannot by themselves change the fate of the sick. They can identify crucial mechanisms underlying a disease and find out how to correct them; they can test their intuitions in vitro and in animal models, they can even perform the first stage of a clinical trial, if they find the appropriate funding, but, especially when it comes to innovative therapies, they will never be able to bring the treatments to all those who need them.
‘‘If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants’’. It is nearly impossible to describe the essential role of sharing results and ideas for research progress better than Isaac Newton. Three centuries later, the importance of sharing knowledge is made even more compelling by the increased rapidity with which data are produced and the enormous possibilities for their dissemination created by Internet.
The recent call for applications for the next PRIN (and FIRB) Italian research programmes, whose expiration is forthcoming, encourages a ruefully ethnographic reflection. Let me explain.
According to current news Korea is a country involved in a military confrontation around the 48th parallel, which is just as dangerous as it is anachronistic, the last of the Cold War conflicts. For sixty years South Korea has formally been in a state of war with the other Korea, North Korea. However throughout all these years, Seoul has also accepted and won another challenge, that of entering the knowledge economy as an absolute leader.
Upset by drastic budget cuts imposed by the finance ministry, the vice-chancellors of 71 public sector universities are threatening to resign en-bloc. They rightly say that development projects are grounded, bills unpaid, and some buildings only half-constructed. Paying teacher salaries is also at risk. But a cash-strapped government retorts that its number-one priority is dealing with the flood devastation. It says it cannot afford the inflated budgets of previous years.
Neither a silent revolution, nor a stormy one. What Africa needs is a scientific revolution that trains a new generation of scientists towards the resolution of its most urgent problems. More than 40 % per cent of Africans (out of 922 million people) have no access to safe drinking water, let alone electricity; 70% of them live on less than US$2 a day and millions are plagued by Aids, malaria or other infectious diseases.