INSTM's added value for industry
No matter how small or large it is, the only way for any business to be productive and competitive is to enter a virtuous spiral of product and process innovation. INSTM is one of the players on Italy's field of innovation, and a considerable resource to companies looking to take this route to growth. Ideally placed to intermediate between the needs of business and the results achieved in the world of research, the Consortium has, since its inception, carried out, promoted, transferred and given value to research activities in materials science and technology, in order to expand our collective knowledge in this field and to support the country's scientific, technological, economic and social development. This is such a strong vocation for INSTM that it forms an integral part of the Consortium's mission and is underlined in its Statute: "In order to achieve its aims the Consortium guides the transfer of the results of national and international research in the field of Materials Science and Technology to the applicative and industrial environment. Together with industry, it develops technologically advanced equipment and innovative production processes, carries out specially commissioned studies and research and provides expertise and support in terms of human and material resources to solve issues regarding Materials Science and Technology".
But how does the Consortium do this? What added value does it bring to this delicate operation?
At INSTM's core is a closely-knit network of laboratories that are distributed in the UdRs throughout Italy. Thanks to this network, INSTM can provide its industrial partners, wherever they are, with the very best and most appropriate resources for their needs, and fast.
In this way, INSTM facilitates and reinforces the relationship between the academic and industrial worlds while actively supporting Italy's competitive capabilities in advanced materials and related technologies. This is a winning combination, and one that has brought numerous Italian and foreign business partners to the INSTM community. Indeed, since 1992, INSTM has signed over 800 contracts with such partners – an average of around 40 per year.
But that's not all. INSTM fosters the technology transfer of its affiliates' research results in order to enhance industrial materials applications. Thus it supports, develops and integrates affiliates' activities to encourage companies and public and private organisations to take advantage of their technologies, equipment and services for research, experimentation, analysis and measurement.
INSTM also develops and conducts joint projects aimed at spreading knowledge and innovative applications, and it supports work to identify the right channels to industrial research funding, enabling the application for and granting of patents and the creation of academic spin offs. Here, the results of the past years' work are 11 patents and the creation of 3 spin-offs.
In order to sustain and improve its support of companies in their dealings with public research, INSTM plans in the near future to launch two services that will provide immense added value. These are two search motors created specifically to facilitate technological transfers in materials science and technology. One will direct businesses to a portfolio of solutions and laboratories. These will be classified by known applications and applicative areas, and also by materials characteristics for new challenges in need of solutions. The other is a similar database, but of more unusual solutions from INSTM's inventories and elsewhere that are typically used by single research groups, who are effectively the de facto experts in its use.
Companies needing INSTM support and services, or who may be seeking solutions or partnerships for the presentation of joint scientific projects, will be able to access these online services around the clock for immediate help in finding the most appropriate contacts within the INSTM network.
INSTM also took part in Federchimica's "Nanotechnology in the Chemical Industry", a programme that, through the dissemination of knowledge and citing the need to be proactive in the face of broader European challenges, encouraged chemical businesses to engage in debate with the help of all the stakeholders in the sector, including universities, research centres, science parks, and venture capital funds.
And last but not least, as well as being alert to the needs of established businesses, INSTM is also attentive to young people with entrepreneurial vision who want to bring their ideas to fruition, especially where they involve small and industrial-scale manufacture of typically Italian products. To this end and from an INSTM idea, the "Made NEW in Italy Award" business plan competition was launched in 2009. The objective of this initiative is to support the regeneration and competitive strength of Italy's productive sector with particular emphasis on products "Made in Italy". That regeneration is brought about by encouraging partnership and cooperation between Italian companies, local, regional and national resources, institutions and universities, and it offers Italy's young entrepreneurs a real opportunity to take their ideas from the drawing board to reality.