TYPE: Other


by Luigi Amodio and Alessandra Drioli

The Special of this issue is dedicated to the Fondazione IDIS - Città della Scienza, promoter of the SCI-CO+ Project. From its origins to experiences from the complex period of the Pandemic, the article describes this important Italian institution in the field of Science Communication

The Idis-Città della Scienza Foundation is a nonprofit institution established in 1987 on the initiative of a number of scientists, personalities from the cultural and scientific world, and public and private institutions. Its mission is to enhance scientific culture and innovation for the economic and social development of the territory, in Italy and Europe. Central to its strategy is the theme of the “knowledge society” and the widespread use of innovation to improve people’s quality of life and promote sustainable development for future generations and greater social cohesion. After launching its activities with the science festival Futuro Remoto, the Idis Foundation gave birth to Città della Scienza, a science hub located in Bagnoli, west of Naples. It integrates different functions in one place, with the aim of increasing scientific citizenship for people of all ages, to improve the social and cultural environment and promote innovation processes for the development of the territory.

With the support of new technologies, the closure of exhibition areas and related programs during Covid-19 led to the development of new forms of science communication and digital activities that can reach visitors at home.

Therefore, the aim of the SciCo+ project is to share these experiences with different European countries and to promote new paradigms in science communication, looking at online programs with the related need to increase the capacity of professionals and organizations.



The Idis Foundation was founded with the Futuro Remoto science festival in 1987. Among the first in Europe, the main purpose of the festival was to respond to the need to create a dialogue between science and society through the promotion and socialization of scientific knowledge and its technological applications. The title of the festival, Futuro Remoto, a journey between science and science fiction, is very significant and reflects the purpose of the event, which is to transport visitors into the future of science and technology and show them how research impacts many areas of our society. In its 37 years of existence, Futuro Remoto has contributed significantly to bringing generations of students, young professionals and ordinary people closer to science and technological innovation. In recent events, Futuro Remoto has expanded its practices and activities, thanks to the contribution of numerous scientific partners, universities and research centers. The impact of the pandemic in 2020 marked a further turning point by mandating the use of digital media. Thus, Futuro Remoto became a physical and virtual agora with exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations and events, a kind of large “knowledge exhibition.”

With the premise of Futuro Remoto, the Città della Scienza project was born in the 1990s as part of a model of urban regeneration of the Bagnoli industrial area in western Naples. It is part of the regional strategy to create a new model of competitive and sustainable development based on research and innovation, capable of attracting talent, investment and innovative companies to Italy.

The heart of its activities is to facilitate access to knowledge for people of all ages, social and cultural backgrounds, to transform research results into business and innovation, and encourage open innovation processes among research centers, universities and industries.

Città della Scienza brings all activities together in one place. Spread over an area of about 70,000 square meters, it includes a Science Centre; a Business Innovation Centre; a FabLab and a Conference Center.



The Science Center at Città della Scienza, following the traditions of science centers around the world, is a place for experimentation, learning, meeting and building a constructive dialogue with science and technology,

The main programs currently consist of:

  • Corporea, the Museum of the Human Body with interactive exhibits, immersive videos, virtual reality experiences and multimedia to explore the human machine in all its complexity.
  • Planetarium, a 3D projection facility to present educational and entertaining shows on astronomy and the night sky.
  • Science laboratories to support the teaching of STEAM disciplines, with inquiry-based learning approaches and making full use of digital technologies.

The goal of the Science Center is to inspire a passion for science and innovation among the younger generation and to engage the general public in scientific reasoning about current social issues and technological advances. Città della Scienza is one of three science museums in Italy funded by a national law for science communication and education from the Ministry of University and Research.



The Business Innovation Center is designed as a hub to foster the acceleration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the knowledge economy, with the aim of contributing to the development of the metropolitan city of Naples and the region. The main activities offer innovators value-added services to support the growth of innovative ideas, business incubation and acceleration, internationalization solutions and their involvement in international projects. The incubator is managed by a specific company, Campania NewSteel, in which Fondazione Idis and University of Naples Federico II have a stake. Today it houses 40 startups, spin-offs and re-startups in promising sectors of the regional economy.

Today the Business Innovation Center is implementing a regional strategic project “Manifattur@ Campania Industria 4.0” with the aim of contributing to the 4.0 transition of the regional production system, particularly SMEs. The main objectives of the project are to qualify the supply with knowledge-intensive services, strengthen the capacity of SMEs with digital technologies and foster the connection between the research and business systems in order to create a virtuous dynamism of co-design and collaboration within the new paradigms of the 4.0 transition.



D.RE.A.M.-Design and REsearch in Advanced Manufacturing – is a large laboratory and testing center dedicated to new digital manufacturing technologies in production processes, open to young creatives, engineers, artisans, scientists, associations and the local community. It is an open-source collaborative platform with professional and technologically advanced machinery covering a broad spectrum of rapid prototype processing. The services and facilities cover five lines of activity: prototyping, reverse engineering, design, prototyping and communication.

The expected result is to push the laboratory to fit into the local business, craft and artistic environment, to connect with specific manufacturing sectors or innovative districts with strong research capabilities, such as aeronautics and shipbuilding or biomedical applications.



Idis Foundation is recognized as an “NGO in official relationship with UNESCO,” and an active member of several international professional networks, such as ECSITE – the European network of Science Centers and Science Museums, EBN- European Business Innovation Network, and ICOM-International Council of Museums.

The international perspective looks at exchanging practices with other science centers around the world, the development of transnational cooperation projects with the aim of enhancing the field of science communication and strengthening and promoting the capacity building of the professional community locally and globally.

Among the most relevant cooperation projects, the Idis Foundation developed in collaboration with Al Quds University a science diplomacy project in the Middle East for the establishment of a science center in Palestine. Meetmath, a large traveling exhibition on mathematics, was created thanks to the contributions of Italian, Palestinian and Israeli mathematicians, curators and educators. Today, 15 years after its creation, the exhibition is still on display at the Al Quds Campus in East Jerusalem with tours for students, teachers and the general public.

Another case in point is the organization of a science festival in Nigeria in the city of Owerri with the collaboration of the Pontifical Council for Culture, university student associations and local universities in Imo State. A training program was first organized in Naples for twelve Nigerian graduate students. Subsequently, an interactive physics exhibit was produced and installed during the science festival in Owerri as the first nucleus of the Owerri Science Centre within the university.

The third case is the Euro-Mediterranean and Middle East Summer School, a training program for mid-professional staff aimed at strengthening and developing their operational capacities, especially in regions with less experienced organizations and few Science Centers. The program, held every two years, was promoted with the two networks, ECSITE and NAMES, and a group of Science Centers with experts in exhibition design, educational programs, and museum management. The 2017 edition was organized at Città della Scienza for a group of 20 people from Portugal, Italy, Kuwait, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, and Palestine.

Finally, the Idis Foundation led the design and production of traveling exhibitions to promote Italian research and innovation abroad. One of the most significant initiatives was the exhibition “Italy the Beauty of Knowledge,” which recounts the Italian spirit in innovation processes and presents some results of recent research in different fields: Aerospace, Agribusiness, Cultural Heritage, Health, Environment. The exhibition was promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the National Research Council and other Italian museums. It touched several continents in a Tour organized in collaboration with the Italian embassies in Alexandria, New Delhi, Singapore, Jakarta, Hanoi, Canton, and Buenos Aires.



The 2020 edition of Futuro Remoto (Nov. 20-29) shifted totally from in-person format to online activities due to strong restrictions adopted by governments to prevent the spread of SARS-Cov-2 in public spaces. The idea was to keep the interactive formats of the festival alive as much as possible through connections with researchers in labs and new communication practices. It was also an opportunity for the festival to easily connect internationally with extraordinary and remote places and big-name scientists, as well as to raise awareness of the critical importance of international research cooperation in addressing global challenges.

Over the past 3 years, the festival has featured about 60 international events, ranging from connections to major research infrastructures (CERN, Concordia Antarctic Station, Italy’s Arctic Dirigible Station, Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory and Galileo National Telescope in the Canary Islands, SESAME-synchrotron light for experimental science and applications in the Middle East) to virtual tours of science museums (Universum in Mexico City, Musée des Confluences in Lyon, Deutsches Museum in Munich), science laboratories (Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium, Astronaut lab at ‘la Cité des l’Espace), and numerous conversations with Italian scientists abroad, as well as Talks with prominent speakers such as 2011 Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter or writer David Leawitt.

This set of activities has led to new science communication practices with interesting results for the entire field by testing the plurality of digital technologies in science public engagement and better integrating the international dimension in research dissemination. These results will be shared with SciCo+ project partner institutions to foster the exchange of practices, considerations, and guidelines for their dissemination within the community of Science Centers and science communication organizations at the European level.

1 | 2023 October-December

Welcome! by Riccardo Villari
Makers and scientists by Alfonso Molina and Mirta Michilli
Green in the Lab by Anna Gunnarsson
Città della Scienza by Luigi Amodio and Alessandra Drioli
Science communication in the digital age by Dario De Notaris and Rosanna Marino
An overview by Giuseppe D’Angelo