Legislative Decree 38/2004, which instituted 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; to take over the functions of primary metrological institute as per Law 273/1991; to promote, disseminate and transfer knowledge acquired in measurement science and materials research to benefit growth in all sectors of the Italian system.

INRIM began operations on 01/01/2006 and in 2008 was fully operative in all its structures, both scientific and administrative, in the pursuit of all its aims.

In order to fulfil its tasks INRIM made efforts to increase self-financing, especially by participating in co-financed European, national and regional projects. One should also acknowledge the strong support of the San Paolo bank foundation to the development of nano- and quantum- technology laboratories.

INRIM participates in Europe's association of national metrological institutes, EURAMET, and in the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), whose first phase is the iMERA Plus programmes of research into SI (International System) units, Health, Length and Electromagnetism. Relevant researches have been started on the redefinition of some SI units to be based on values assigned to fundamental physical constants, on the development of optical frequency standards and on a quantum definition of the candela. Specific iMERA Plus programmes in electromagnetism and mechanics confirm the importance of know-how concerning materials and nanotechnologies; moreover in the health field an important objective has been obtained with the participation in the European Excellence Centre for regenerative medicine.

The identification and pursuit of high added value metrological activities in chemistry continues to be an important objective. In addition there are proposals for a new generation of measurement methods in optics.

Quantum mechanics, nanotechnologies and materials science continue to play an essential role in advanced metrological research.

INRIM participates in the Galileo satellite navigation system programme as regards metrological time and frequency applications and also operates 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 ESA and ASI contracts; moreover it co-operates with Thales Alenia Space in dimensional metrology. Regional projects have strengthened iMERA Plus programmes allowing the development of laboratories of metrology in regenerative medicine, biomedicine and biosensors.

Moreover INRIM has expressed its interest in Regional innovation centres, namely Meccatronics, Sustainable Architecture, Agriculture and Food, Biotechnologies and Biomedicine, Renewable Energies, ICT.

Progress also regards innovative devices, 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 in INRIM's competencies in the field of nanostructured materials, quantum information and quantum metrology.

In mid-2008 two internal competition announcements were launched on "important investments" and on "new ideas". External evaluation committees have been designated to rank the proposals: 6 investment projects and 7 ideas proposals have been financed for a total amount of 1 M€. Altogether scientific activity led to 124 ISI publications in 2008, 15 of which in journals with IF larger than 2.5.

As a 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 strengthening the Italian production system. This participation means defining and documenting the uncertainties of the Calibration and Measurement Capabilities (CMCs) published in Appendix C of the BIPM's Key Comparison Data Base (

During 2008 INRIM proceeded to reorganize the Laboratory Accreditation Service in order to acquire the autonomy that European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) requires for accreditation services. This procedure was completed at the beginning of 2009, with the constitution of an independent consortium (COPA), whose promoting partners are public bodies open however to the private sector.

Regione Piemonte and the other Research Public Bodies with operating sites in the region signed an important agreement concerning regional founding of post-doc positions and of visiting scientists. With this agreement INRIM has obtained substantial support for 13 post-doc fellowships and 11 visiting scientist grants to be carried out in 2009.

Finally, INRIM also promoted several high quality events of scientific divulgation and its researchers taught various graduate and post-graduate level courses.

Elio Bava
Torino, May 2009