Science and innovation underpin the economies of both Italy and the UK. Encouraging work between the two countries therefore produces benefits for both.

To promote international collaboration the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office jointly fund the UK Science and Innovation Network based in 31 countries around the world.

For an introductory brief which covers the local Science and Innovation landscape, UK priorities and successes in Italy, read the UK Science and Innovation Network Country Snapshot here.

You may also wish to read the report on what happened during Expo and a tool for experts and researchers who continue to work in the field of Agri-tech, the UK Science & Innovation Network at Milan Expo 2015: Facts and the Future.


To promote international collaboration the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Stategy and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office jointly fund the UK Science and Innovation Network (SIN), based in 28 countries around the world.

SIN Italy work to the following global objectives:

  • influence science and innovation policies of governments, industry and academia;
  • improve UK policy based on international experience and emerging opportunities and challenges;
  • stimulate strategic science collaborations and deliver wider policy goals;
  • harness international technology partnerships and investment to grow innovation capability.

Science and Innovation in Italy

Italy can rely on a critical mass of excellent research institutions such as:

  • INFN
  • ASI
  • CNR
  • ENEA

All have an outstanding international reputation. Italy is also a good performer in EU collaborative research: in the 7FP Italy was fourth in terms of funds received. Italian researchers have the highest productivity in Europe and Italy is also an important partner in many international large-scale infrastructure projects . The Italian government has recently started to implement a process of fiscal consolidation and reform where innovation plays a crucial role for boosting competitiveness and long-term sustainable growth. Focus has been on the decline of ordinary non-competitive funds, in favour of investment on a higher degree of integration with European R&D and Horizon 2020 priorities, and a simplification of the funding programmes.

Spending on R&D has remained stable at 1.25% of GDP since levelling off at about €18 billion a year (£14.3bn) at the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008. Business R&D budgets have also remained stable, driven by their own long-term internal dynamics.

The national research programme presented by the Minister of Education Universities and Research Stefania Giannini on 31 January 2014 has a seven-year timeline, running from 2014 to 2020, with a budget of €6.3bn (£5bn), equating to €900M(£715M) a year.

Minister Giannini is determined to work towards increasing the resources devoted to R&D: 1.25% of GDP is one of the lowest rates in Europe – with 0.68% from industry (2011 data) and enhancing Italy’s innovation capacities. Aims are:

  • Improving strategic coordination and simplifying the whole research system in terms of management, financial tools and legal framework
  • Introducing multiyear budget planning (with stable, certain and adequate funding) where resources are consistently used for the priority sectors identified
  • Enhancing collaboration between research institutions and universities

Despite the relatively low private R&D investment, Italy ranks second in Europe after Germany in terms of innovative SMEs. The Italian government recently adopted a new policy that provides for specific measures aimed at promoting the creation and development of start-ups. Amongst other provisions, the new legislation introduces tax incentives for corporate and private investments in start-ups.


EXPO 2015

  • SIN Italy is fully exploiting the opportunities offered by Expo Milano 2015 for the promotion of British agricultural and life sciences technologies and the creation of new links between UK, Italian and EU researchers. A number of workshops, seminars, meetings and events will take place from July to October at Expo Milan and Lodi including:
  • Friday 10 July: a one day programme organised in collaboration with the MET Office. The programme will include a high-level seminar entitled ‘Food and the Future: Weather and Climate Impacts on Food Supply and Security’ where panelists will explore the links between weather and climate, food security and malnutrition and how science and industry can work together to help to support the Agri-Tech sector through a better understanding of the long-term climate risk. In addition, an exhibition will be set-up all day long in the UK Pavilion under-hive plaza, including access to touch screen exhibits of Met Office activities and video exhibits on climate change, the work of the Met Office, CABI and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
  • Wednesday 9 September and Thursday 10 September: Food Authenticity workshop held at the PTP Science Park in Lodi. An industry focused workshop will highlight the latest research on methods and processes for combating food fraud. Italian and international scientists will link with Food Integrity Work Programme leaders and demonstrate state of the art tools for assuring their food products. The following morning a dissemination/exchange event open to Italian food companies will present how current research is developing practical tools for companies to use to protect themselves from food fraud; with opportunities for companies to input in the development of such research.
  • Monday 21 September: Agricultural science and technology is rapidly becoming one of the world’s fastest growing and exciting sectors and in parallel, satellite-enabled services are providing significant benefits to a wide range of markets. The agri-business community is already beginning to be dependent upon satellite-enabled services and there are significant opportunities for space technology to make even larger contributions. New advances in satellite data acquisition and processing offer promise of improved monitoring of land use, crop health and growth, and increased accuracy of crop yield models. This one day event is focused on showcasing UK capabilities in the field of satellite applications for Agri-Tech industry and services. The event includes a high level meeting between UKSA and ASI to discuss future strategies, a technical workshop and an exhibition open to the public, with videos and installations explaining the use of satellites in Agri-tech.
  • Thursday 1 and Friday 2 October: Beef Quality workshop Its aim is to build on the progress made and initiate the exchange of ideas and knowledge between scientists and organisations representing the beef industry from across Europe. Scientists and industry representatives will be exchanging knowledge, strengthening links, generating ideas for joint research, for submission for EU or national funding, and strengthening of the European beef quality network between scientists and industry.
  • Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 October: Waste Valorisation workshop. It will compare case studies of valorisation processes applied to agri-food co-products across Europe to identify common themes that can be better refined to contribute to improvements in processing and hence in the economical delivery of the processes. The workshop will comprise a series of presentations of case studies from successful applications realised across Europe. The concluding part of each Workshop will be a facilitated session to identify common themes, approaches or processes that can be adopted as best practice across Europe.
  • Tuesday 13 October: ‘What can a better understanding of risk do to ensure future global food security?’ Sir Mark Walport event: Sir Mark Walport will introduce his Risk Report to an international audience and will discuss risk and innovation in relation to ensuring global food security with high-level panellists including Professor Tim Benton (UK Global Food Security Champion); John McIntire, IFAD Associate Vice-President, Programme Management Department; Bernhard Url , Executive Director of the European Food Security Authority (EFSA); Professor Mario Calderini, Chief Adviser for Innovation, Italian Ministry of Research.

Reports and Recent Successes

SIN Italy has identified areas of excellence and coordinated initiatives in many fields, such as a workshop in cultural heritage conservation, which resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between AHRC and the National Research Council; or in food research, fostering the creation of two large EU projects with Institute of Food Research and the University of Bologna as coordinators.

“Towards Expo 2015: Learn More to Collaborate More” - the best of Italian and UK food research met in Milan to explore opportunities for Expo Milano 2015 and beyond – November 2014 - A mission of UK experts and members of the UK National Technological Platform for Food visited Lodi and Milan on 18 and 19 November.

The mission provided UK participants with a unique opportunity to meet Italian colleagues at the heart of the preparations for the initiatives and events which will take place at Expo Milano 2015. Through a two-day programme of focused meetings and discussions, scientists and researchers had the possibility to create new links and start exploring areas of common interest in which to set up collaboration that will continue during Expo and beyond.

Mission to London “Fewer Barriers, Greater Opportunities: a new Innovation Framework for SMEs and Start Ups” – June 2014 - A selected group of Italian innovation key policy makers met colleagues in London at the British Venture Capital Association, BIS, HM Treasury and NESTA to present their policies to promote and foster innovation, and to create a mutual useful forum for debate and exert a positive impact on Italian actions.

Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapies - Future Italy-UK Collaborations – May 2014 - SIN Italy set up a programme of meetings in the UK for Professor Giuseppe Banfi, Scientific Director of Galeazzi Orthopaedics Hospital and Director General of San Raffaele Foundation, a centre of excellence in cell therapy in Milan. Following visits to the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine, the Cell Therapy Catapult and the London Regenerative Medicine Network (LRMN), Professor Banfi has provided a contact for a Horizon 2020 bid that one of the EPSRC Centre members is coordinating. Other contacts are now in place with Loughborough University.

UK DAY AT MAXXI – May 2014 - Amongst the initiatives promoted to mark the visit to Italy of HRH Prince Harry on 17 and 18 May 2014, the SIN Italy Team invited Charles Howell, Head of Production, Film at British company Framestore and Senior Visual Effects Producer for Gravity, to showcase the work and the technology that made this groundbreaking movie possible. In 2014, Gravity won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. The event was opened by the 2011 documentary The Industry of Imagination – A British Effect, made by the SIN Italy Team. The event was attended by more than 200 people, including key players of the Italian cinema industry, cinema students, journalists and general public and generated wide interest in the national media. Francesco Alo’, the journalist who interviewed Howell, dedicated his national radio programme to the event and visited Framestore and Cinesite in London to collect material which has been published on the specialised website Badtaste.

A New SPACE for Collaboration - November 2013 - SIN Italy organised a mission of 20 Italian experts, from Space Agency’s officers, representatives from the Ministry of Research, academics, key experts and companies’ representatives, to the new Applications Satellite Catapult in Harwell. The initiative aimed at increasing cooperation between UKSA and ASI both bilaterally – including the signing of a MoU - and at a European level; strengthening exchange and collaboration within the Cosmo SkyMed project and giving Italian business representatives the opportunity to learn about research and investment in the UK and the Catapult approach. As a result of the mission, the ASI-UKSA MoU was signed in December 2014 and FlyBy, one of the participating companies, set up a newco in Harwell – siHealth Ltd.

NC3Rs visit - November 2013 - SIN Italy organised the visit of Dr. Kathryn Chapman, Head of Innovation and Translation at the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). Kathryn presented the UK approach to these issues and NC3Rs activities to the Working Group on Alternatives to Animal Testing at the Ministry of Health in Rome and also did a presentation and led a debate in Milan, hosted by the Lombardy Region, with a selected group of scientists. See the UK presentation on plans to reduce animal testing.

Contact details for SIN Italy team

Laura Nuccilli, British Embassy Rome Tel +39 06 4220 2284 - Email:

@UKinItaly on Twitter UKinItaly on Facebook

Corporate information