A research agency

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When we consider the factors that shape the future, both on an individual and collective basis, such as knowledge, training, innovation, we must ensure good sense, analysis skills, independent judgment, humility, courage, imagination. The future scientific policies of a country must take lead from these aspects and not from the opinions of individual entities, immediate expectations, half-hearted motivations. They must also be able to rely on significant resources. Creativity, value and the skills of our researchers, the quality of the scientific, internationally recognized work, represent the most original and powerful strengths to restart the country, accelerate growth, heighten quality and the competitive hold. For many years - too many - Italian research has been inspired and has been subject of clumsy reform attempts, which have nearly always and despite the good intentions of proposers, had disputable, if not, pejorative effects.

The sphere of knowledge and training is now asphyxiated by a tight web of standards and procedures, from the temporary exaggeration, to the gradual loss of social consensus and value, right up to the impossibility of planning one's own future. It is not enough to entrust the relaunch to assessment only, before even glimpsing applications and effects, the distinction of governance and planning functions, is not always very clear. At this current stage, the system is not able to reform itself: there are too many internal discussions and interest, narcissism, condominiums. We do not have any more time. Other countries, even during these difficult times, make brave and counter trend choices, which, in a few years time, will lead them to control scientific and technological fields, to create new markets in which they will determine the rules, costs and benefits. We need to start together, reconstructing strong social solidarity when it comes to science to bring the theme of competitive growth based upon progress and reliance on knowledge, at the core of all political actions. Growth which will guarantee integration and social mobility, supported, primarily, but not exclusively, by policies and public resources: training and research investments, during a period which is experiencing significant welfare cuts, must be seen to provide great moral, political and economic significance in terms of the lives and futures of individuals. We must instigate a reorganization, deregulation and simplification process in order to restore freedom, energy, creativity to the entire chain, training, research and innovation. We must aggregate, cut, re-write, clearly attribute functions and skills, clearly separate management orientation, monitor, reward, select and invest. New management models must be adopted: independence, which in some cases, the original definition has been debased, with relative recovery and the removal of ideology, associating it with responsibility and the ability to formulate networks.
Within the context of systemic governance, agencies and public entities assigned to intervene within the spheres of knowledge are to be gathered together under the aegis of an entity directly connected to the most important institutions, renowned for its honesty, confidence, skills and functions across all scientific, national and international communities. A type of actuator meta-agency boasting public policies relative to research and innovation, able to promote, on an international level, the Italian Research System: competitively access EU resources and programs; reinforce the exchange of scientific results to production systems and services: support the spin off growth; attract private investment; promote the exploration of new scientific and technological fields.

An able entity when it comes to governance, reliable in terms of its relationships with local governments, the financial sectors, production systems; quick to identify, select, assess strategies to circulate innovation and the progress of knowledge. To achieve this, in addition to financial policies and resources, human capital, is needed. For this very reason, we must take back a 100% profit from the resources provided by retirement, combining an extraordinary hiring plan to ensure the constancy and quality of work provided by hundreds of thousands of researchers ready to access any selection or comparative assessment system. In all probability, owing to the re dimensioning and internal behaviors within the modified scientific communities, the hiring system could also be completely reformulated. Without a doubt, new talent will be rooted out, attracted and trained, so consequently, we must make access to study easier, improve complementary services, guarantee a genuine and effective right to study as part of national and regional policies. Management, maintenance and potential of the large infrastructures, laboratory equipment and libraries has to be rethought to overcome the current fragmentation across the country and the various structures according to proprietorship logic, to foster more functional forms of clustering and shared access.

The list of proposals is too long to for the empty space provided in the journal. These first attempts represent the pretext for opening and inviting honest, generous, sizable comparison, which provides hope and energy, and along with passion, make research the raison d'être.

Extract from: Il Fatto Quotidiano

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