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Scientific diplomacy

Italy and the United States boast top-level cooperation in science and technology. The legal basis is the Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement signed in Rome on 1 April 1988, which is subject to review every three years. The Agreement covers the areas of greatest interest for both countries and all the main research agencies and institutions. To consult the current text, Click here.

At the Italian Embassy in Washington this sector is followed by the section dedicated to scientific and technological cooperation of the Office of Economic, Commercial and Scientific Affairs, which is responsible for facilitating the internationalization of Italian research and the development of bilateral relations between entities active in the two countries.

  • For the contacts of the section dedicated to scientific and technological cooperation, Click here
  • To find out more about the role and location of Scientific Attachés in the Italian Embassies, Click here.
  • Innovitalia is the new portal of Italian scientific diplomacy, Click here.

For the three-year period 2019-21, the following four macro scientific areas of relevance for the two countries have been defined, each with a corresponding bilateral working group:

  • Life sciences:
    i) Precision medicine in oncology and related biotechnology
    ii) Innovative technologies for healthy aging (including robotics)
  • Physics and Astrophysics
  • Resilience to natural disasters
  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), advanced materials and manufacturing, cyber security, quantum technologies and communications.

The presence in the United States of more than 15,000 Italian researchers, according to NSF data, and of a number of Italian professors in American universities which has grown by more than 6% per year in the last decade (source: OECD) represents a real resource and a opportunity to strengthen bilateral cooperation. The Embassy plays a role of connection and enhancement between the many Italian scientists present and the research bodies and various institutions. Among the associations of Italian researchers operating in the United States, ISSNAF (Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation) stands out as the largest and most widespread in the area; organizes an annual career award and prizes for young researchers, and works in close collaboration with the Embassy which promoted its birth at the time and supports its activities.

The US institutional framework: an overview

The organization of scientific and technological research in the United States includes various federal agencies. The main government agencies responsible for the distribution of financial resources for research and development are:

American science policy largely depends on the choices of two decision-making centres: Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), who are part of the Executive Office of the President (White House). The Agencies and Departments mainly perform the role of executors of the policies indicated by the OMB and the OSTP.

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