INSTM. The acronym may be short, but in the world of Italian and international research, it carries considerable weight. Indeed, INSTM, the National Interuniversity Consortium of Materials Science and Technology, is the largest consortium of its kind in Italy, drawing on the expertise of no less than 50 universities – and all those that are active in Italy in researching advanced materials and technologies. The individual universities' voluntary affiliation with INSTM allows their Research Professors and Fellows to participate in the Consortium's activities through the presentation of research proposals. In the last few years, over 2700 tenured professors, research fellows, holders of research and scholarship grants and doctorate students have taken advantage of this opportunity, and the numbers are growing year on year.

This is a great success by any measure, especially if we consider that consortia like INSTM typically have limited budgets. Like other such organisations, INSTM's charge is to unite and concentrate the efforts of its affiliates to help them become more competitive both in Italy and abroad in securing funds and financing. And it is here that INSTM excels, providing the organisational, technical and financial support necessary to promote research activities in science and technology within its affiliate universities. Its efficiency in bringing together and managing their considerable talents creates an effective critical mass that renders them highly competitive in taking on innovative research projects. Such projects may benefit Italy's business community, or may support initiatives in the development of technology transfer, providing significant opportunities for the academic and industrial spheres to benefit from their mutual interaction.

The success of this strategy is undeniable. This is underlined by the sheer number and quality of the domestic and international projects involving INSTM's research groups that have been financed to date. It is further confirmed by the Consortium's partnerships, developed right from its inception, with important public and private research organisations, laboratories and companies active in the sector. These include CNR, Italy's National Research Council; ENEA, Italy's National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development; the CINECA consortium for advanced information technology and scientific computing and Italy's largest computing centre; IIT, the Italian Institute of Technology; the Sincrotrone Trieste ScpA Consortium, specialists in synchrotron and free-electron laser (FEL) light; Aviospace srl; Nuovo Pignone SpA, part of GE's Oil & Gas sector; AIRI, the Italian Association of Industrial Research; Veneto Nanotech ScpA; and the Dutch Polymer Institute.

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