Italian government increases funding for research projects of 'key national interest'
The Italian government has announced that it is to further increase public spending for research projects of key national interest. Every year, the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research co-finances 'new research projects of national relevancy' over a two year period. This year, a total of 945 new research projects will receive an overall allocation of 137 million euro - nearly ninety projects and eight million euro more than in 2002. 'This year we wanted to concentrate our resources on projects that will have real national relevancy, and not, as in the past, allocate funding to projects which have no significant outcome,' said Letizia Moratti, Italian Minister for Education, Universities and Research. 'The decree represents our commitment to supporting research, without which, [...] Italian and European economies have no future,' added the minister. A total of 20,000 researchers from over 4,000 university departments across Italy will work on the selected projects, addressing issues related to all areas of science; from medicine and biology to industrial research and IT engineering. This latest announcement can been seen as part of the Italian's government's commitment to the Barcelona target of increasing research investment to three per cent of GDP by 2010. Ms Moratti further demonstrated the government's commitment to these European objectives at the inter-ministerial conference 'human capital and the knowledge society' in Milan on 27 October. The meeting called upon Member States boost human capital and to invest more in education and job training over a worker's lifetime.