The Basic research investment fund (FIRB) is one of the key instruments used by the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) to fund basic research projects. The FIRB is used to finance activities designed to broaden scientific and technical knowledge not related to any immediate or specific commercial or industrial objectives, for the purpose of strengthening Italy’s international competitiveness. The INFN has applied for and benefitted from funding under the FIRB scheme.
In line with changes in Italian laws governing the funding of “Research projects of significant national interest”, the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research MIUR set up a fund allocation system based on specific qualifying criteria: co-funding, group research and evaluation of research projects. The scheme is open to contributions in any area of research, with no obligation to address any centrally-defined topic. INFN researchers and their university associates traditionally work in close collaboration with universities on projects of significant national interest (PRIN) in areas of interest to the INFN. Given the limited overall participation, rising administrative reporting costs and, most importantly of all, a gradual reduction in the resources available, the INFN has decided to exclude any form of direct funding in addition to the availability of personnel and equipment already available at its own facilities. However, it is important to underline the great value of these projects as part of a synergic effort by the INFN and universities to gain access to valuable sources of funding that can be used to develop and enhance research projects involving the INFN.