As Italy's elections loom amid a hike in euroscepticism, the country's scientific community is raising its voice - saying Europe's a place where they can find opportunities.
"Alone we wouldn't be as successful as we are with the 22 countries together"Chief Diversity Officer, European Space Agency
At ESTEC, the European Space Agency's research and technology centre in the Netherlands, scientists of 22 different nationalities work together to design and test satellites. And one in five is Italian.
Forced to go abroad
"In other countries researchers are better paid than in Italy, so they prefer to stay at home. While in Italy those who want to do research are often forced to look for opportunities abroad," said Franco Ongaro, ESTEC Director.
Europe's a hot topic in Italy's elections, with the campaigning divided between pro-EU parties and populist movements, who accuse the block of limiting national sovereignty.
"Alone we wouldn't be as successful as we are with the 22 countries together. If we can land on a comet 500 million kilometres away after a 10-year journey, it is thanks to the alchemy of these differences, coming together to pursue common objectives," commented Ersilia Vaudo Scarpetta, Chief Diversity Officer at the European Space Agency.
High scientific production
With its centres of excellence, Italy scores highly in terms of scientific production, despite public spending on research being below the European average.
But to be competitive in technology sectors like those of Germany, France and UK, Italy will have to invest more in its human capital and infrastructure.