ARGO System: research and technology to support the country

Two call for ideas to combat Covid-19

Innovation. Research. Technology. These are the three pillars of the Argo System – an ecosystem created to favour the integration of public and private resources and skills, the result of an Institutional Protocol between MUR, MISE and the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, coordinated by Area Science Park – which we find in the “Covid-19 ARGO” Due Call for Ideas launched to contain and stem the effects of the Covid-19 epidemiological emergency and, at the same time, to trigger the recovery of the socio-economic framework.

The aim of the calls is to support the country in strengthening its capacity to prevent and respond to health emergencies, in order to support the production system in the post-pandemic economic crisis. They concern activities that directly affect the health of citizens and workers (epidemiological analysis and management, diagnostics, therapies and care, clinical organisational processes, biomedical devices, prevention and tracking systems, personal protective equipment, safety systems); business activities (continuity of business activities, reconfiguration of business processes, flexibility of production processes); citizens’ activities (e-learning, information services, public administration services for citizens).

“The country’s development project cannot disregard a strategic vision of research and technology transfer,” comments Nicola Mazzocca, Innovation Counsellor to the Minister of University and Research. “These are issues that must be developed in a synergistic way by the competent Ministries and Regions involving the specificities of the Universities, Research Bodies and the productive system operating in the territories. Digital transformation has the important role of modifying production processes and innovating products using ITC methods and technologies. Argo takes up this challenge in a comprehensive and consistent manner. It was conceived as an initiative of Area Science Park, supported by MISE, MUR and the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, to offer innovative services to research and productive development activities in health-related sectors. This initiative goes beyond the aspects linked to a strictly emergency phase to look with motivated confidence at a more competitive future for our country. An intervention that rapidly aims to provide services and qualified support essential to support the ‘new start’.”

“Research and innovation,” says Alessia Rosolen, Regional Councillor for Research of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, “have a great opportunity to show that the achievements of the laboratory and the network are the fuse to ignite the flame of the economy and can really generate essential added value in the health and welfare sectors. Argo was created to give concrete answers and guarantee effective effects for the territory. The Coronavirus pandemic has scourged the economy and devastated the community. This will be a crucial test for research: innovation must extend its spectrum of action to the social component and there can be no applied research without links to the real economy. The research system can and must carve out a central role for itself in the political debate in order to overcome certain clichés and demonstrate that it is worth the investments that the Region guarantees year after year.”

“Through the calls of the ARGO System,” explains the President of Area Science Park Sergio Paoletti, “we wish to promote technology transfer and the implementation of ideas, projects and entrepreneurial solutions that, by exploiting emerging technologies, intervene in the health system, production, and the lives of citizens in order to ensure emergency containment measures and measures for tackling the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. A number of tools are made available for selected projects, such as financial support and real business development services, with intervention methods that facilitate their effective transfer from the world of research and innovation to the world of business, health and services for citizens.”

The Due Calls for Ideas: aims, deadlines, addressees

The first call “FAST TRACK COVID-19“ aims to support research and innovation projects to enhance Italy’s capacity for prevention, analysis and response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It meets the aims of the MID, MISE, MUR and AGID Agreement and the Innova Platform for Italy and is addressed to Universities, Higher Education Institutes, EPR (Public Research Bodies), IRCCS (Research Hospitals), Health Authorities, intergovernmental organisations, associations and foundations that can make a contribution in the field of devices for the prevention, diagnosis and monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 throughout Italy. GO TO THE CALL

The second call is addressed to SMEs and Large Enterprises for the development of research, development and innovation projects in the following fields: innovation and research of medical-health technologies (medical diagnostics and prognosis, antiviral therapeutic strategies); innovation and research of data driven technologies/tools (artificial intelligence algorithms and Machine Learning techniques; access, extraction and data mining systems of large multi-omics databases). GO TO THE CALL

Both calls, open until September 30, 2020, foresee for research teams and companies the use of the latest generation Genomics and Epigenomics Platforms of the ARGO System, active in Area Science Park, composed of a high processivity genomics sequencer and the “Orfeo” Data Centre, able to provide advanced services of calculation and analysis of data associated with genomics and other sectors.

The calls make available a total of 400 thousand euros and will jointly finance each of the selected projects for a maximum of 30 thousand euros, providing staff with free access to technology platforms and ancillary services.