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Happy New Year!

End-of-year greetings from IIT Scientific Director Giorgio Metta

Dear all,

As 2023 is coming to an end, I would like to take the opportunity to share a few personal thoughts with you. First and foremost, year 2023 marked the twentieth anniversary of IIT. Twenty years got IIT from being an idea on paper to a well-recognized research institute with excellent international reputation. Apart from the celebrations that have already taken place (the final event will be organized next February 16th), I think that 2023 marked another important milestone. IIT was explicitly acknowledged as the model “to be copied” by the Minister of Finance. In the September (Italian) budget review document (named “NADEF”), we can read the following [my translation]:

The PNRR (Next Generation EU program) funds five applied research excellence clusters, in addition to further initiatives that aim to replicate the success of the Italian Institute of Technology, whose twentieth anniversary was celebrated this month.

Indeed, I think that we should cherish IIT’s model. We must preserve our organization and de facto independence, defend the ability to carry out basic science next to creative technology transfer, maintain interdisciplinarity, increase internationalization, diversity and inclusion. We expect to be evaluated on achievements and driven solely by the goal of scientific discovery. As our existence is based on entrusted taxpayers’ money – and we should be proud of that trust – we should invest that money wisely and for the society’s common good.

In this context, I would like to remark that no human enterprise can be so clearly successful without an excellent organization and dedicated team work. I am grateful for the dedication and hard work of our staff, whose unwavering commitment has played a pivotal role in shaping IIT into the successful institution it is today.

To the same purpose, we are very soon launching a new Strategic Plan that will guide our actions until year 2030. Two major societal challenges are highlighted in the Plan: the care for the planet (we coined the word “Earthcare”) and the care for people (Healthcare). This new Plan includes a particular focus on the use of Artificial Intelligence to accelerate the development of science and technology. After about a year of work, more than 600 individual notes, many of you contributed with, 26 GBytes of raw material, we managed to synthesize a relatively lean document of about 50 pages (including figures). Please bear with us until the official launch date, February 16th, as we polish the language and prepare some nice graphics.

The new Strategic Plan defines our major research directions in the field of sustainability, neuroscience, robotics, artificial intelligence, chemistry and nanomaterials, RNA, to name a few. We designed five “Flagship” projects with ample room for impact. Science and technology are the best hopes for an improved quality of life and IIT certainly bets heavily on this statement.

Finally, 2023 marks also a quantum leap in labor relations. Kudos to everyone who helped shape IIT’s “plant level collective agreement”. A referendum showed that the agreement was widely welcomed by IIT’s employees (technical and administrative personnel).

I would like to conclude with a beautiful statement by a controversial scientist (have you seen the movie Oppenheimer?): the science of today is the technology of tomorrow. Controversy can certainly spice up discussion, which is the very essence of scientific practice. Let’s not forget the good practices of our work.

Wishing you and your loved ones a relaxing holiday season.

Wishing this world a peaceful and safe future.