Press release

“SIGN”, the new network of Italian scientists in Germany inaugurated in Berlin on 12 October 2022

The association “SIGN – Italian Scientists in Germany Network” was inaugurated today at the Embassy of Italy in Berlin. SIGN, promoted by the Ambassador of Italy, H. E. Armando Varricchio, aims at supporting the research of Italian scholars in Germany and emphasizing their excellence in many areas. SIGN also aims at being a think-tank facilitating the transfer to the Italian scientific system of experiences and practices developed by Italian scientists with long-time experience in Germany, and help stimulate a “brain re-gain” in favor of the Italian research system.

The founding members of the network are fifty prominent Italian scientists active in Germany, and over 25 of them were present in Berlin for the official signature ceremony. Overall about 120 persons attended the event, the event was opened by speeches of the Ambassador of Italy, H. E. Armando Varricchio and of the President of the National Research Council, Prof. Maria Chiara Carrozza.

“Scientific cooperation is one of the pillars of the relationship between Italy and Germany”, so Ambassador Varricchio, “and it can already count on the precious contribution of Italian researchers to German academia and research”. It is now important to “rebalance the flow of human capital from Germany to Italy, thanks also to the investments envisaged by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) to improve the international attractivity of our country “. This, added the Ambassador, is strictly functional to the need for technological knowledge and innovation, as deciding factors for the future competitiveness of Italy, Germany and Europe.

After the opening speeches, a debate was held on the perspectives of Italian-German science cooperation, moderated by Isabella Bufacchi, envoy of IlSole24Ore. The debate involved prof. Carrozza, the Director of the German Center for Research on Higher Education and Science (DZHW) Prof. Monika Jungbauer-Gans, the head of internalization at Freie Universität Berlin Dr. Herbert Grieshop, and Prof. Gianaurelio Cuniberti, professor at the Technische Universität Dresden and newly-appointed executive director of SIGN. 

After the debate, the signature of the founding act of SIGN by Ambassador Varricchio as Honorary President festively concluded the proceedings.

The relevance of a network of Italian scientists in Germany such as SIGN emerges from the data, also presented in the debate, on the Italian presence in Germany in the scientific field: over 3800 Italians active in universities and 1100 in public research bodies (in both cases, the first national group), including numerous high-ranking positions and 300 university professors. Besides, an unquantified but large number of Italian scientists work in German or multinational industrial research, and approximately 9000 Italian students are involved in both exchange and degree programs in Germany. At the institutional level, there are over 750 individual agreements in force between Italian universities and their German counterparts, in addition to institutional agreements between CNR and the German public research bodies Max-Planck, Helmholtz, and Fraunhofer.