A conversation with EMBO Member Roberto di Lauro about molecular biology, the challenges of evaluating and funding different types of research, and the occasional uses…
Focus on Italy
Facts and figures, life scientists in Italy, EMBO opportunities
Italy has been an EMBC Member State since 1972.
Facts and figures
Italy has more than 1.7 million students1 enrolled across 97 universities, of which 67 are under public law2. Nearly 20% of Italy’s population aged 15-64 has completed tertiary education, and 35% of employed people have tertiary education and/or work in science and technology3.
The country’s R&D expenditure was 1.47% of GDP in 20194. Business companies invested 16.6 billion euros, about 63% of total expenditure, while universities and non-profit organizations contributed about 24% of total expenditure. The share of the Italian government was 12.5%4.
Italy ranks among the top 30 most innovative economies, with Milan representing a top Science & Technology cluster worldwide5. In 2020, the European Patent Office granted 3,813 patents to first patentees residing in Italy6. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Italy is a frontrunner in work-life balance, civic engagement, social connections and health7.
Researchers in Italy have been successful in securing international funding, for example through EU’s Horizon 2020 scheme, European Research Council grants, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programs8 and EMBO fellowships9.
The Ministry of University and Research (MUR) oversees higher education and research institutions in Italy, and is one of the main national funding agencies10. MUR’s National Research Program 2021-2027 is a multiannual framework program aimed at achieving important goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the Next Generation EU initiative11.
In line with EU’s new funding program Horizon Europe, MUR’s National Research Program 2021-2027 uses a cross-sectoral clusters approach to boost key technologies, promote international research and strengthen interdisciplinary collaborations12.
Population: 59.2 million13
R&D spending: 1.47% of GDP4
Life scientists: 1.8 million14
Foreign researchers: ~ 2%15
Number of universities: 97 (67 under public law)2
Horizon 2020 funding8:
17,031 organizations involved in H2020 projects
478 ERC Principal Investigators
2,646 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funded researchers
All life scientists in Italy are eligible for the EMBO Programmes supporting life scientists in Europe and beyond.
Find out about all EMBO funding schemes here.
All information as of September 2022.
- Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca, portale dei dati dell’istruzione superiore
- Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca, Istituzioni universitarie accreditate
- Country Report Italy, 2020 European Semester: Assessment of progress on structural reforms, prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances, and results of in-depth reviews under Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011
- ISTAT, la ricerca e sviluppo in Italia – anni 2019/2021
- Global Innovation Index 2021
- European Patent Office, Patent Index 2020
- OECD Better Life Index
- Italy Horizon 2020 country profile
- EMBO facts & figures 2020
- Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca, programmi di finanziamento
- Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca, Programma nazionale per la ricerca
- Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca, slides di presentazione PNR 2021-2027
- ISTAT, censimento della popolazione e dinamica demografica – anno 2020
- Fondazione Symbola, 100 Italian life sciences stories
- European Commission, Science, Research and Innovation Performance of the EU 2020
Meet scientists from the EMBO communities
Interview with Roberto di Lauro