A group of people smiling at the camera

By Serena Fabrizio and Antonio Zinilli (CNR-IRCrES)

The Eu-SPRI Early Career Researcher Conference (ECC) 2024, entitled “Sustainability in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policies: Between Complexity and Uncertainty”, took place in Rome on 6-8 March 2024, at the CNR-IRCrES – the Research Institute for Sustainable Economic Growth of the National Research Council of Italy.

The ECC brought together scholars from different fields to explore the impact of science, technology, and innovation policies on long-term sustainable development and equitable growth. The Conference delved into the complexities and uncertainties surrounding STI policies, intending to uncover potential synergies between these policies and the realization of sustainable goals.

An image of students in a classroomThe event began with the opening by the Chair of the Conference Antonio Zinilli, CNR-IRCrES, who spoke about the Eu-SPRI Forum and important European infrastructures in social sciences and economics, such as RISIS (the European Research Infrastructure for Science, technology and Innovation policy Studies). This addition was pertinent given the significant use of this infrastructure in a large part of the conference presentations. The conference proceeded with a stimulating keynote speech by Arash Hajikhani entitled “Tracing the Trajectory: Evolution and Impact of Sustainable Development Activities in Science, Technology, Innovation and Business”.


A session on business and technological innovation, chaired by Lucio Morettini, featured presentations on topics such as innovations in the hospitality sector during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of digital technologies on business financing. The day ended with a reflective closing session.

The second day began with a session on the dynamics of research funding, chaired by Andrea Orazio Spinello, where discussions focused on patterns of collaboration in the EU Framework Programmes, gender considerations in R&D funding, and the importance of proximity in government-funded research partnerships. Laura Piscicelli’s keynote on “How does a circular economy contribute to sustainability?” set the stage for discussions during a session on Innovation Policy and Sustainability, chaired by Antonio Zinilli. Topics included the relationship between technology and sustainability, income inequalities in innovation, and the geographical aspects of green innovation in Italy. The day concluded with a session on the Positioning of R&D Actors, chaired by Lorenzo Giammei.

On the final day, an Open session moderated by Serena Fabrizio covered topics as diverse as the influence of research evaluation on researchers’ agendas and how social media platforms respond to criticism. Giovanni Cerulli’s keynote on “Data-driven decision making: potential and limitations” offered insights into future directions.

Students in a classroomThrough insightful keynotes, thought-provoking sessions, and engaging discussions, participants gained effective perspectives on navigating the complexities and uncertainties inherent in shaping sustainable development agendas.

Students in a classroomAs we bid farewell to ECC 2024, we take with us a renewed commitment to harnessing the power of STI policy to drive positive change and promote inclusive growth. By fostering collaboration across disciplines and sectors, we will be better equipped to address the multiple challenges facing our societies and indicate the way for a more sustainable future.

A group of people smiling at the camera

Thank all participants, organizers, and sponsors for their contributions to the success of ECC Rome 2024.

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