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The Legislative Decree 38/2004, which established the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRIM), defines INRIM as a national public body whose task is to perform and promote scientific research in the fields of metrology. INRIM takes over the functions of primary metrological institute as per Law 273/1991 and promotes, disseminates and transfers its knowledges acquired in the science of measurement and materials research to further the growth in all sectors of the Italian system.

INRIM began operations on 01/01/2006 and, in organisational terms, at the beginning of 2007 was still in a transitional stage as regards certain key roles mentioned in the Legislative Decree and regulations. The Department Director was appointed only on 30/05/07 and in a short time the appointments of the heads of Divisions occurred and the Department Council followed. In the meantime the resolution appointing the members of the Evaluation Committee was passed by the Board of Directors.

Furthermore, the Department planned to investigate possibilities to organise activities that cut across divisional boundaries to create a more effective interface with issues of significant interest for the European Union and national programmes. The Administration and General Services Unit identified its sectors and offices and assigned relevant responsibilities.

In order to achieve its tasks INRIM made efforts to increase self-financing, especially by participating in co-financed European and regional projects, and in ESA and national programmes.

INRIM joined the European association of national metrology institutes, EURAMET e.V., on January 11, 2007, and began participation in the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP) and through the special call (iMERA Plus) issued by the European Union.

The iMERA Plus programmes, to which INRIM's scientific staff made a considerable contribution, concerns SI units, Health, Length and Electromagnetism. The approved individual projects confirmed the importance of dedicated efforts in the determination of fundamental physical constants and in the development of optical frequency standards. Specific iMERA Plus programmes in electromagnetism and mechanics confirm the importance of know-how concerning materials and nanotechnologies; in addition there are proposals for a new generation of measurement methods in optics. In the health field an important objective continues to be the identification and pursuit of high added value metrological activities in chemistry. Quantum mechanics, nanotechnologies and materials science continue to play an essential role in advanced metrological research. INRIM has participated in the Galileo satellite navigation system programme as regards metrological time and frequency applications operating also through the Torino Time Consortium, with the aim of establishing in Torino a location of excellence for time measurement, certification and application of the EU Galileo system, in ASI contracts and in co-operation with Thales Alenia Space in dimensional metrology.

Progress regards innovative devices as well, often of the quantum type, developed in original experiments, in-depth studies on the dynamics of magnetisation extended to include high frequencies and on the hysteresis process. Particular interest has also been shown for INRIM's competencies in the field of nanostructured materials.

As primary metrological institute INRIM has also continued to carry out important and demanding activities that are essential for the Italian production system, participating in setting up a supranational metrological infrastructure as part of the CIPM Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), signed in 1999, aiming at eliminating trade barriers and favouring the development of the production system of the participating Countries.

The Laboratory Accreditation Service, which also operates jointly with and on behalf of INMRI-ENEA, has continued to perform its tasks and has managed to overcome many of the difficulties noted when it was launched back in 2006. However, the most important issue raised by the Service and discussed by the Board of Directors concerned the demonstration of autonomy that European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) requires for accreditation services. Different ways to overcome these difficulties have been discussed and the competent ministries (MiUR and MiSE) have been informed.

Elio Bava
Torino, June 2008