Spotlight on Italy: The right ecosystem for nourishing innovation

Today's guest blog is by Eric Baclet, General Manager, Italy, Eli Lilly and Company

From left: Eric Baclet and Concetto Vasta, Corporate Affairs and Market Access Director, Eli Lilly Italia

What does innovation mean to you? For some, innovation constitutes the work done to help discover, and increase access to, life-saving medicines. For others, innovation represents that and more. For Lilly Italy, it means focusing on the value of research for its contribution to welfare and public health, alongside growth and employment.

To that end, join us in spirit today! We are hosting an event at the University of Catania where research experts and international scientists will discuss research and the future role of public-private collaborations to improve public health outcomes in Italy and around the world. We opened the Lilly Research Lab in Catania, Sicily just two years ago. The laboratory won a European grant in partnership with the University of Rome La Sapienza (@SapienzaRoma; @RicercaSapienza) and the University of Catania (@uni_ct). 

We believe research is not a cost but an investment, an engine for development and employment. Here at our Italian affiliate, this first-hand example demonstrates how the private and public sector together can play a crucial role in furthering research and health outcomes. It is also a great example of how private companies like Lilly and public institutions such as universities can support future medical discovery through operating in a network towards a common goal: supporting and growing the innovation ecosystem. Innovation is the catalyst to growth, and for this very reason the laboratory represents a promise to young Italian scientists, institutions and society as a whole. This promise has been transformed into a concrete and tangible result for research made in Italy.

Celebrating this initiative also comes at an important time, given the ongoing brain drain in Italy which remains quite high (3% in, 16.2% out; deficit -13%[i] ,[ii]). In addition, the number of patents generated in Italy remains low, at 4% in Italy verses 15% in Germany and Spain; 16% in France and 36% in Denmark[iii]. And yet, Italian research continues to excel in the number of scientific articles published, the prominence of those journals, the number of quotes by Italian researchers in international scientific literature, and the number of scientific collaborations[iv].

Lilly Italy is joining in the effort to reverse the brain drain and promote innovation in Italy through our commitment to research. With a history of over 50 years in Italy, Lilly’s investment in the manufacturing site for biotech products in Sesto Fiorentino and the research lab in Catania has contributed to the transformation of the nation’s pharmaceutical sector. To join the conversation on the role of public-private collaborations in Italy and beyond, stay tuned by following @elilillyitalia and the hashtag #valoreaicervelli

[i] Foreign Born Scientists: Mobility Patterns for Sixteen Countries,” by Chiara Franzoni, Giuseppe Scellato

[ii] Paula Stephan, May 2012, National Bureau of Economic Research;

[iii] I-Com 2013

[iv] ANVUR and OCSE 2014