Scientific research: Milan calls Europe

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Milan may be considered one of the main centers of Italian research, at least in its international and cooperative dimension, as it is demonstrated by the data regarding the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) that Scienceonthenet have analyzed(1). From such data, the great research centers of Milan clearly stands out, especially in the fields of biomedicine, energy and information technology, but there are also hundreds of small enterprises that collaborate with partners from abroad, in a “Europe of knowledge” that is still to be fully discovered.

In this article, which represents a first draft of Scienceonthenet’s database Italian Research Map (IRM), we tried to verify with data analysis the international perspective of the research carried out in Milan(2). In order to do this, we filtered all the projects within the FP7 of the European Commission (2007-2013) that had at least one Italian partner. From this set (made up of approximately 5000 projects out of 20000) we selected all the projects that involved at least one partner from Milan at September 2013, for a total of 1061 projects.

The result is a map of the Milan-based international scientific research, which includes 240 centers, from the main universities of the city to the National Council of Resarch (CNR), from several research institutions to small enterprises that participated in one or more projects from the FP7 (see table 1).

At a first glance, it is possible to identify the high Milanese specialization in some fields such as health, energy and information technology, where institutions from Milan participate in one quarter to one third of the total projects with at least one Italian partner.

FP7 projects partecipation by field

Euratom-Fusion 4 2 1 50,00%
Health 926 398 150 37,69%
Energy 309 137 35 25,55%
SSH - Socio-economic sciences and Humanities 205 121 37 30,58%
ICT - Information and communication technologies 1943 956 238 24,90%
NMP - Nanoscinces, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies 694 411 92 22,38%
Ideas-ERC 3544 218 53 24,31%
Euratom-Fission 126 51 11 21,57%
KBBE - Food, Agricultural and Biotecnology 423 257 51 19,84%
Environment 418 220 42 19,09%
SME - Re search for the benefit of SMEs 795 326 62 19,02%
Security 232 129 24 18,60%
Space 210 98 20 20,41%
Transport 561 311 55 17,68%
People 9100 778 129 16,58%
JTI - Joint Tecnology Iniziatives 501 131 23 17,56%
SIS - Science in society 155 80 10 12,50%
Infrastructures - Research Infrastructures 326 213 22 10,33%
Regions - Regions of Knowldge 75 28 2 7,14%
INCO - Activities of International Cooperation 161 55 3 5,45%
Regpot 184 14 1 7,14%
COH - Support for the coherent development of research policies 24 2 0 0,00%
GA 22 6 0 0,00%
Total 20938 4942 1061 21,47%


Limits and perspectives of the study

These data are still preliminary and were obtained from data supplied by the European Commission. In this first release we focused the resolution at the level of universities and research centers, without further considering the different departments (the only exception being the CNR, see table 3).

Also, we did not consider the economic aspect of the projects, neither we normalized the number of projects that each university/research center obtained for the number of researchers or other similar parameters. These will be the next steps of the IRM Project that Scienceonthenet will achieve in 2014, in order to obtain a detailed and precise picture of the protagonists of Italian research in Europe.

there is still few europe in our research

The necessity of a more transnastional profile that Italian research should acquire has been rightly stressed out: for this reason Europe promoted the ERA (European Research Area) strategy, which, through the FP7 and the recent Horizon 2020 funding programme, aims to increase efficacy and innovation of research in the continent with a real collaboration between the 28 countries of the Union(3). However, the degree of internationalization of national research is still low, both financially (7 percent of funds to different countries comes from European projects, while this amount should rise to 10 percent with Horizon 2020) and when collaborative networks are concerned, most of which are within the national borders(4) (5) (6).

a map of italian and milanese research

Going back to our dataset, in order to test the international level of scientific research carried out in Milan we cut the data at the level of the first ten institutions, classified on the basis of the number of projects, and we had some surprises: for instance, the fourth position gained by the Centro Studi Fiat. A very positive result was also obtained by the CNR, who classified first in spite of the not brilliant evaluation from ANVUR. Another relevant result is the presence, within the first ten positions, of the Politecnico and the Università degli Studi of Milan, respectively third and tenth.

Firts 10 italian contractor

Organization Number of projects
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche 575
Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna 201
Politecnico di Milano 189
Centro Richerche Fiat Scpa 162
La Sapienza - Università di Roma 161
Politecnico di Torino 153
Università degli Studi di Padova 150
Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA) 136
Università degli Studi di Firenze 121
Università degli Studi di Milano 115

Contractors in Milan with at least 10 projects

Organization Italy chart Number of projects
Politecnico di Milano 3 189
Università degli Studi di Milano 10 115
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore 24 59
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (*solo istituti di Milano) 1 *57
Ospedale San Raffaele 30 56
Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca 31 45
Telecom Italia SpA 31 44
Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri 41 35
Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi 41 35
Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico - Rse Spa 45 37
Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei 48 32
Istituto Europeo Di Oncologia Srl 65 23
Txt E-solutions Spa 69 20
Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele 69 20
Cf Consulting Finanziamenti Unione Europea Srl 74 19
IFOM Fondazione Istituto FIRC di Oncologia Molecolare 79 18
Istituto Clinico Humanitas 100 14
Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori 105 13
Fondazione Irccs Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta 113 12
Fast - Federazione Delle Associazioni Scientifiche E Tecniche 138 10

It is also interesting to analyze the Milanese contractors involved in at least 10 projects. In this rank, the main universities stand out together with the CNR and some other major player like Istituto Mario Negri, Fondazione San Raffaele, Telecom, RSE, Humanitas, Fondazione Mattei and many others.

A mark of quality is represented by the fact that, whilst Milanese contractors constitutes about the 10 percent of the total Italian amount, the number of projects that see a Milanese institutions as a participant is more than 20 percent and the average number of projects for Milanese contractors is 4.38 versus 2.40 for the others.

Partecipants/projects in media

  Number of organizations Number of projects Media of project/organizations
Italia 2096 4942 2,36
Milano 242 1061 4,38

Obviously, rankings change and become more informative when some of the 22 topics that were part of the FP7 are analyzed further: this allow to draw a more articular map of the contractors on the basis of health, energy, environment, information technology, nuclear energy, ideas, nanotechnology, people, infrastructure, KBBE, Jti, regions, space (see table 4).


Organization Number 
of projects
Ospedale San Raffaele 23
Università degli Studi di Milano 22
Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri 20
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore 17
Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele 12
Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca 10
Istituto Europeo Di Oncologia Srl 10
Cf Consulting Finanziamenti Unione Europea Srl 9
Fondazione Irccs Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta 8
IFOM Fondazione Istituto FIRC di Oncologia Molecolare 7
Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori 6
Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi 5
Molecular Medicine Spa 4
Istituto Clinico Humanitas 4


Organization Number of projects
Politecnico di Milano 61
Telecom Italia SpA 43
Txt E-solutions Spa 16
Università degli Studi di Milano 14
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche 10
Alcatel-lucent Italia S.P.A. 9
Cefriel - Societa Consortile A Responsabilita Limitata 8
Ospedale San Raffaele 7
Scs Srl 6
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore 5
Cf Consulting Finanziamenti Unione Europea Srl 5
Testaluna Srl 4
Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico - Rse Spa 4


Organization Number of projects
Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi 12
Università degli Studi di Milano 7
Politecnico di Milano 6
Ospedale San Raffaele 5
Istituto Europeo Di Oncologia Srl 4
Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca 3
Istituto Clinico Humanitas 3
Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele 2
Ospedale San Raffaele 2
Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri 2
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche 2
Moxoff Srl-spin Off Del Politecnicodi Milano 1


Organization Number of projects
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche 23
Politecnico di Milano 20
Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca 4
Txt E-solutions Spa 4
Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri 3
Fondazione Politecnico Di Milano 3
Università degli Studi di Milano 2
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore 2
Ticonuno Srl 2
Rso Spa 2
Filarete S.R.L. 2
Cestec 2


international collaborations

Finally, our analysis allows to observe the network of national and international collaborations that involve Milanese research institutions, together with the cooperative subnets for each topic. A real quantitative and qualitative map of “Europe of knowledge” thus emerges, where Milan represents a key hub of the continental scientific network.

Countries whic collaborate with institutions in Milan

Milano: first outsider partners by field

Contractor Partecipation projects Field
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung angewandter Forschung e. V. 53 ICT
The Chancellor, Masters, And Scholars Of The University Of Cambridge 44 HEALTH
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung angewandter Forschung e. V. 18 NMP
Joint Research Centre 12 ENVIRONMENT
Centre national de la recherche scientifique 12 INFRASTRUCTURES
Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek 12 KBBE
Deutschen Zentrums für Luft - und Raumfahrt 10 TRANSPORT
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung angewandter Forschung e. V. 9 SME
Universidad Pontificia Comillas 8 ENERGY
Centro De Investigaciones Energeticas, Medioambientales Y Tecnologicas-ciemat 8 EURATOM-FISSION
Centre national de la recherche scientifique 8 PEOPLE
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 8 SSH
Deutschen Zentrums für Luft - und Raumfahrt 7 SPACE
Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) 5 JTI
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung angewandter Forschung e. V. 5 SECURITY
Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne 3 IDEAS-ERC
Aarhus Universitet 3 SIS
Aristotelio Panepistimio Thessalonikis 1 EURATOM-FUSION
Bay Zoltan Alkalmazott Kutatasi Kozhasznu Nonprofit Kft. 1 INCO
Asociacion Cluster Del Sector Audiovisual De Euskadi -euskadiko Ikustentzunezko Klusterra 1 REGIONS
Panepistimio Ioanninon 1 REGPOT


next steps for the IRM project

Mapping the Italian research in its relationship with the rest of Europe is the aim of the Scienceonthenet project IRM that we briefly described here in its first results regarding the Milanese situation. Next steps will consist in a further increase of the resolution of our study, in order to include the level of the individual institute/department, obtain time trends, normalize data for parameters that allow detailed performance evaluations of each contractor, report European collaborative networks within proper maps and infographics to facilitate their interpretation.


Details about projects/ CNR Institutions in Milan Mi 

The final aim of the IRM project is, on the one hand, to become a thermometer of the internationalization level of Italian research, thus allowing to develop enforcing strategies based on a solid knowledge of actual situation, and on the other hand a valuable set of guidelines that may help to find the “right partner” for Italian and foreigner research institutions.


Scientific research: Milan calls Europe (pdf file)

Analysis and data visualizationSergio Cima, Emanuele Conti, Carlo Toccaceli Blasi

Developer irm.scienceonthenet.euPaolo Griselli

Collaborated: Michele Bellone

We wish to thank the European Commission, CORDIS and the Office for Activities and Relationships with European Institutions of the CNR for data about Milanese CNR.


Ricerca scientifica: Milano chiama Europa
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(1) We considered the contractors located in: Assago, Bernareggio, Biassono, Bresso, Cernusco sul Naviglio, Cinisello Balsamo, Cormano, Corsico, Lainate, Milano, Opera, Rozzano, San Donato Milanese, Segrate, Settimo Milanese.
(2) Analysis are based on CORDIS data updated at September 2013 and on data supplied by the Office for Activities and Relationships with European Institutions of the CNR. CORDIS dataset contains some imprecisions that have been eliminated, but some of them could still be present. Data correction is still ongoing, any mistakes write to: [email protected]
(3) Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. European Research Area Progress Report 2013
(4) A. Chessa et al. "Is Europe Evolving Toward an Integrated research Area?", Science 8 february 2013
(5) P. Greco. La ricerca ai tempi della crisi. Scienza in rete, ottobre 2013
(6) F. Aiello. 7° Programma Quadro, i dati della partecipazione italiana. Scienza in rete, giugno 2013

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