The INFN has a significant impact on Italian society. Its activities continue to attract the most highly qualified researchers and research managers and it is by no coincidence that senior staff from here frequently move on to direct other major Italian research centres and are called upon to lead top international scientific organisations, both in Europe and in the United States.
Another qualifying factor is the training of young people: every year about one thousand undergraduates, graduate students and research fellows are involved in the INFN’s research activities. This goal will be furthered through the fledgling Gran Sasso Science Institute, the new international doctoral facility.
The INFN also has a positive impact on the Italian economy, through its close collaboration with high-tech companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It participates with them in joint initiatives for Italian projects but, above all, in major international ventures. For instance, Italian companies made an extremely significant contribution to the construction of the most technologically advanced components used in the LHC particle accelerators at CERN in Geneva.
The technology and expertise developed by the INFN in conducting its experiments also has major implications for the medical and healthcare industry and for the technology sector in general. Of the numerous examples, the development of a technique that uses carbon ions and protons to treat tumours (hadron therapy) stands out as particularly significant. The INFN has over a decade of experience in this field, gained directly at its laboratories in Catania, and built the hadron therapy machine installed at the CNAO in Pavia. The INFN is also a leading national and international player in the GRID, supercomputing network project and in expanding its use to applications in other scientific fields, e-commerce and culture. The INFN also uses its own analysis and research instruments and facilities to addresses issues regarding the cultural and environmental heritage.
The INFN is fully committed to promoting scientific culture. It takes part in all the main dissemination activities in Italy and each year it organises various exhibitions and events throughout the country, some of which are broadcast on TV.