The Cnr – Istituto di Sistemi e Tecnologie Industriali Intelligenti per il Manifatturiero Avanzato (Cnr – Institute of Intelligent Industrial Systems and Technologies for Advanced Manufacturing) carries out Scientific Research, Development, Technology Transfer, Training and Strategic Roadmapping activities to contribute to innovation, competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises and to promote the central role of people in enterprises and society. In particular, the activities are aimed at the design of smart systems, enabling industrial technologies, products and processes that co-evolve dynamically over time to meet different social and market needs and to support new production paradigms.

Alongside the Institute’s manufacturing expertise, it is clear that areas of primary interest are represented by the study of natural and synthetic fibres and their characterisation, functionalisation and transformation processes, the development of solutions for ambient intelligence and ambient assisted living, the central role of the individual in the society of the future, with emphasis on the issue of assistance and the social and labour inclusion of vulnerable groups, advanced applications in the field of agricultural robotics and non-destructive quality control in the agri-food sector, bioinformatics and ecological informatics and the circular economy issue.

Historical Background

The Cnr –  Istituto di Sistemi e Tecnologie Industriali Intelligenti per il Manifatturiero Avanzato (CNR-STIIMA) – Cnr – Institute of Intelligent Industrial Systems and Technologies for Advanced Manufacturing – the direction of which has been entrusted since May 2019 to Dr. Ing. Lorenzo Molinari Tosatti, already Acting Director since June 2018, was established in May 2018, initially as the new name of the Istituto di Tecnologie Industriali e Automazione (ITIA) – Institute of Industrial Technologies and Automation – and in the following months it changed its scientific and organisational physiognomy following the amalgamation of part of the Istituto di Studi sui Sistemi Intelligenti per l’Automazione (ISSIA) – Institute of Studies on Intelligent Systems for Automation – of the CNR of Bari and, shortly afterwards, of the Biella branch of the Istituto per lo Studio delle Macromolecole (ISMAC) – Institute for the Study of Macromolecules – of the CNR.

The origins of the Institute of Industrial Technology and Automation (ITIA) date back to 1963 when the Centro Macchine Utensili (CEMU) – Machine Tool Centre – was founded in Cinisello Balsamo (MI) as a consortium of the National Research Council and the Italian Association for the Development of Research in Machine Tools, with the aim of conducting strategic research activities for the competitiveness of the mechanical tools industry. CEMU, under the direction of Professor Ruggero Chiappulini, was an early example of a public-private partnership, later becoming a CNR research laboratory in 1968.

Its activities focused mainly on experimental applied research and the design, development and construction of prototypes of devices and functional assemblies for machine tools, in collaboration with universities, research associations and companies.

In 1979, CEMU became the Istituto Sperimentale Macchine Utensili (IMU) – Machine Tool Experimental Institute – of the CNR, appointed director Professor Athos Palagi. In 1986, when the institute moved to its new headquarters in the Città Studi area of Milan, its director became Professor Francesco Jovane.

Research activities were oriented towards industrial innovation, based on the strategic mission of contributing to the growth of the Competitiveness and Sustainability of Manufacturing in Italy and Europe. In 1993 the Institute changed its name to ITIA – Institute of Industrial Technologies and Automation, becoming part of the CNR Department of Production Systems (DSP), following the reform of the organisation in 2005.

In 2008, Professor Tullio A. M. Tolio took over as Director. In 2009, ITIA moved to its current location at the Area Territoriale della Ricerca (Territorial Research Area) of Milan 1, also in the Città Studi area, and in 2012 the Institute became part of the new Department of Engineering, ICT and Technologies for Energy and Transport (DIITET), which brings together most of the Institutes previously belonging to the DSP (Production Systems), ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and DET (Energy and Transport) departments.

The Istituto di Studi sui Sistemi Intelligenti per l’Automazione (ISSIA) was established in April 2002, with the mission of studying and developing complex intelligent systems and agents on the basis of computer and electronic technologies, physical modelling, and computational methodologies, with concrete implications for industry and public administration.


ISSIA was organised in three branches: the main one in Bari and the Palermo and Genoa sections, which merged in 2018 into another CNR institute.


In the Bari branch, corresponding to the former Istituto Elaborazione Segnali ed Immagini (IESI) – Institute of Signal and Image Processing – of the CNR, some research lines have been consolidated over the years with dominant cultural foundations of computer science, physics and cybernetics, applied in two prevailing fields: Robotics and Artificial Vision; Earth Observation.

The Institute for the Study of Macromolecules (ISMAC) of the CNR was established in January 2002, with its main headquarters in Milan and two sections in Biella and Genoa. The origins of the Biella branch date back to 1969, when the CNR stipulated an agreement with the “Oreste Rivetti” Association to set up the “O. Rivetti” Wool Research and Experimentation Centre, with the aim of promoting research in the field of wool textiles and at the same time enhancing services to companies.

Given the great importance of the Italian textile and clothing industry, the Centre was transformed into the “O. Rivetti” Wool Research Institute in November 1982 and, in September 2000, was merged with the Institute of Macromolecule Chemistry in Milan and the Institute of Chemical-Physical Studies of Synthetic and Natural Macromolecules in Genoa, giving rise to the Institute for the Study of Macromolecules (ISMAC).


The activities of the Biella branch are oriented towards research and innovation in the field of textile materials and processes, the development of standardisation in the textile field, as well as the provision of services, technology transfer and technical advice to companies in the sector.


In February 2019, by resolution of the CNR, the Biella branch of ISMAC merged into the Cnr – Institute of Intelligent Industrial Systems and Technologies for Advanced Manufacturing.