Getting a better return on research funding

When it comes to public financing and grants for scientific research, government agencies have often struggled to allocate funding to derive optimal returns on their investments. The subjects can be sophisticated, the criteria for funding are usually complex, and post-grant compliance audits are rigorous.

That's why local government agencies in the Campania region around Naples, Italy, have turned to business intelligence software from SAS. Officials there must evaluate and respond to more than 7,000 applications for regional projects, verify compliance with tender specifications, and manage the financing phases and progress toward completion – all while operating with maximum transparency and speed.

In the past few years, officials have transitioned from manual processes to an integrated monitoring system (IMS) that manages the financing of its scientific research initiatives.

In this way, we create a unique Web interface of two complementary technologies for business intelligence and territorial analysis.

Giuseppe Russo
Director, Scientific Research and Statistics

In addition to ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of its research investments, the Campania regional government is able to enhance the competitiveness among the various participants who operate in the territory.

"We simultaneously stimulate the connections among universities and enterprises, local systems and public research centers and consortia," says Giuseppe Russo, Director of Campania Region Scientific Research and Statistics.

From the beginning, grant applicants can locate information on financing tenders, along with indications of administrative procedures and practices on the Web. The data is stored in a data warehouse where it is structured for subsequent queries, analysis, and monitoring. Through dashboards, reports, and geographic maps, the SAS portal is constantly updated to give participants fresh data and updated analyses.

"In this way, we create a unique Web interface of two complementary technologies for business intelligence and territorial analysis," says Russo. "Their integration into our IMS allows us to analyze data on financing acquired from other software applications that manage public and private financing."

The SAS control panel allows government analysts to define and score key indicators for the types of beneficiaries, the research topics of the projects, and overall figures. In addition, users can begin with geographic maps to create complex spatial analyses.

For example, an agency manager can extrapolate information concerning projects taking place within a specific geographic area. All adopted procedures comply with the rules of transparency and privacy required by law.

Article by Umberto Torelli, published on Il Mondo in 2010.


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