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The National Operational Programme on Research and Innovation 2014-2020 is the instrument by which Italy contributes to the improvement of the quality of higher education and the enhancement of research, technological development and innovation, achieving the objectives of the European Union's cohesion policy in the country’s disadvantaged areas.
The Programme, managed by the Ministry of University and Research (MUR), formerly Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), covers the transition regions (Abruzzo, Molise and Sardinia) and the less developed regions (Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily), and has a total budget of 1.189 million euro.
The NOP on Research and Innovation develops in line with the strategic objectives of the EU Horizon 2020 and Cosme programmes, in synergy with the National Smart Specialization Strategy (NSSS) and the regional operational programmes and smart specialization strategies.
The priority objective of the NOP on Research and Innovation is the competitive positioning of the country’s disadvantaged regions and the promotion of structural changes necessary to increase the capacity to produce and use quality research and innovation able to trigger smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
The Programme covers 12 specialization areas: Aerospace, Agri-food, Blue Growth (maritime economy), Green Chemistry, Design, Creativity and Made in Italy (non R&D), Energy, Smart Factory, Sustainable Mobility, Health, Smart, Secure and Inclusive Communities, Technologies for Living Environments, and Technologies for Cultural Heritage.
The aim is to provide opportunities for regional development in these sectors, encourage the creation of "innovation labs" within which to cultivate new knowledge, talent, innovative entrepreneurship and opportunities to attract skills.
The NOP on Research and Innovation also aims to foster the creation of development opportunities in the regions covered by the Programme, with a view to promoting cooperation between enterprises and other entities (universities, research institutions, etc.) producing mutual benefits in terms of information, production, marketing and products as well as in terms of results.
In addition, the Programme intends to foster the development of new professional skills required in the labour market through the implementation of interventions on human capital aimed at training high profile professionals.
Another novel feature of the Programme is the significant attention paid to improving the effectiveness and quality of spending through the introduction of simplified and transparent procedures that speed up bureaucratic processes while maintaining accuracy in the administrative activities.
The NOP on Research and Innovation 2014-2020 has an overall budget of 1.189 million euro, of which approximately 926 million provided by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF), and approximately 263 million euro by national co-funding.
The NOP on Research and Innovation 2014-2020 is built around three Priority Axes:
Axis I – Investment in Human Capital - 317 million euro allocated to 4 Actions:
- Innovative Industrial Doctorates (I.1);
- Researcher Mobility (Including Attraction of Researchers) (I.2);
- Tertiary Education in Areas Consistent with the NSSS and its Attractiveness (I.3);
- Scholarships and support measures for students (capable and deserving and/or financially disadvantaged) and for the promotion of merit among students, including students with disabilities - Covid-19 Emergency (I.4)
Axis II – Thematic Projects - 825 million euro allocated to 5 Actions:
- Research Infrastructures (II.1);
- Clusters (II.2);
- Research Projects in Enabling Technologies (KETs) (II.3);
- Necessary investments to strengthen the capacity of the overall health services to respond to the crisis caused by the epidemiological emergency (II.4);
- Actions to secure facilities, also through the diffusion and enhancement of digital devices and services to support teaching and research (Covid-19 Emergency) (II.5)
Axis III – Technical Assistance - 47 million euro
Axis III relates to compliance with EU regulations requiring the allocation of 4% of NOP resources to technical assistance for the implementation of the Programme.