Eni focuses on exploiting synergies between science and industry by establishing collaborations with major universities and research centres both in Italy and throughout the world.
By working with the world’s leading scientists we are developing revolutionary new technologies. The most recent challenge that we are investing in is magnetic fusion. Magnetic fusion is a sophisticated technology that builds on different areas of know-how – which our company possesses – such as material physics and developing large-scale power plants.
We now have 12 strategic alliances in place with universities and research centres in Italy and abroad. The research fields comprise Upstream and Downstream Oil & Gas as well as renewable energies and the protection of the environment, ranging from synthesizing low-emission fuels to organic solar cells, from the analysis of seismic and geological data for oil exploration to new technologies for the protection of the environment and the remediation of contaminated sites.
Eni collaborates with the most cutting-edge universities and research centres in Italy and throughout the world, so as to live the values that inspire its operations from a scientific as well as other standpoints, values such as innovation, internationalisation and excellence. Placing academic knowledge alongside business pragmatism is a winning formula and is becoming increasingly vital for us, since it enables us to tackle the challenges posed by the global context with a completely open mind. Our technical-scientific research is mainly carried out at our in-house laboratories in San Donato Milanese and Novara, but the collaboration network with leading external organisations promotes the creation of new synergies capable of generating genuine breakthroughs, both scientific and industrial.
The partnerships with research centres and universities have recently been widened by strengthening our link with the National Research Council (CNR), an agreement initially made in 2009 and renewed in 2014. A Joint Research Agreement (JRA) was signed in March 2019 to establish four joint research centres in southern Italy, an opportunity to reflect and discuss ideas on sustainable environmental and economic development in Italy and throughout the world. Researchers at the laboratories, located at currently existing operational or research centres, will collaborate on key areas such as the decarbonisation of the energy sector, the promotion of the circular economy and bioeconomy, all the way to the development of innovative and sustainable water systems and agricultural techniques. At our research centre in Lecce we will study climate change in the Arctic, while in Gela we will be making clean energy from magnetic confinement fusion. The centre in Metaponto opened in November 2019, and its focus is on innovative solutions and technology in the service of efficiency and optimising water management, so as to make the most of water resources. In Portici, meanwhile, we will study how to develop agriculture with low CO2 emissions.
Thanks to specific framework agreements, in Italy our partnerships with the Polytechnic Universities of Milan and Turin have become more consolidated than ever. In addition to the promotion of courses covering the oil and gas sector to form part of energy engineering degree courses, the partnership with the Polytechnic University of Milan has also led to the planning and creation of a 2nd level University Master's Degree in Energy Innovation, which was launched on 26 November 2018.
Furthermore, partnerships with the Universities of Bologna, Pavia and Naples Federico II, aimed at energy transition and the continuous improvement of our operational excellence, have either been initiated or consolidated. They also cover industrial automation, advanced robotics, Big Data & Analytics and innovative materials to optimise production processes.
Finally, in May 2019, ENEA President Federico Testa and Eni CEO, Claudio Descalzi, signed a memorandum of understanding which paves the way for a new collaboration on research into magnetic confinement fusion to obtain clean, sustainable and safe energy.
In 2008 we agreed a strategic partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, which was subsequently renewed in 2013 and 2017. This collaboration has produced over two hundred scientific publications and numerous patent applications, making it the most prolific  in terms of producing original ideas and scientific studies. The year 2010 saw the inauguration of one of the crowning glories of this partnership, the Solar Frontiers Center (SFC), a centre of excellence for Eni research on solar technologies. In 2018, the tenth year since the partnership began, we signed an agreement with Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), an MIT spin-out, that has enabled us to acquire an equity stake in CFS for the development of the first power plant to produce energy through fusion, a safe, sustainable and virtually unlimited source that generates no pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions.
In this interview Alfonso Amendola, a young Eni researcher, explains the integrated approach which characterises MIT and his experience of working at this prestigious institution to broaden training and research activities and to promote technology transfer between the MIT and Eni. Bringing researchers from different countries and disciplines together unleashes an incredible creative energy, capable of generating cutting-edge innovations. Ten years of collaboration between Eni and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have generated innovative technologies and excellent results, including in the areas of renewables, the environment, and workplace safety. And now even magnetic fusion can be added to the list.
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