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Third Mission / Impact

Third Mission and Societal Impact of Universities and Research Institutes

ANVUR evaluates the quality of third mission, as mandated by the Presidential Decree no. 76/2010 (under art. 3, paragraph 1). The evaluation started in 2011 within the framework of the first round of the Evaluation of Research Quality exercise, VQR 2004-2010 where Third Mission has been defined as the openness of the university towards the socio-economic context through the valorisation and transfer of knowledge. A set of indicators were identified related not only to technology transfer (third-party research, patent activity, incubators, spin-off companies, consortia), but also to management of cultural goods.

By the introduction of the national system of quality assurance for universities Self-Assessment, Periodic Evaluation and Accreditation System AVA in 2013, Third Mission has been officially included among the institutional activities of academic institutions, alongside teaching and research. Indicators and parameters for Third Mission assessment have been increased and modified and taken into account for the accreditation of Institutions.

ANVUR has also published a Manual for the evaluation of Third Mission defining methodology and evaluation procedures (phases, criteria, indicators and evaluative questions). The Manual has benefitted from the expertise of prominent international reviewers and from a public consultation. Following the Manual, an informative system SUA-TM has been created with nearly 90 indicators, the Annual Third Mission Form SUA-TM. It has been used by the Third Mission panel in the second round of the research evaluation exercise VQR 2011-2014, with an informed peer review approach, i.e. using indicators to inform the evaluation of the reviewers. The SUA-TM Form has been reviewed and published by ANVUR in 2018. ANVUR has also worked to enhance the monitoring system of the evaluated institutions by mapping all the statistical sources and databases that could be useful for the data collection on third mission activities and societal impact.

In January 2020 the third round of the research assessment exercise VQR 2015-2019  has been kicked off.  It has entered now the operational phase and a specific Third Mission panel has been established, the GEV TM – Third Mission Evaluation Expert Group.

The panel has evaluated those activities carried out by the Universities and Research organizations, generating impact during the evaluation period, in a given set of fields defining Third mission: exploitation of intellectual or industrial property, academic entrepreneurship, intermediation and technology transfer structures, artistic and cultural heritage, health protection, lifelong learning, public engagement, public goods and policies for inclusion, open science and activities related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The panel has been made up of 30 Experts. The ANVUR Board of Directors has chosen them from over 300 candidates of two public calls, one directed to researchers, the other open to external experts and stakeholders. The aim was to guarantee a balance between highly qualified scholars and experts from public administrations and no-profit organizations, industrial and financial system, cultural institutions and territories.

2015-2019 VQR exercise refers to an “open” definition of impact, not just strictly linked to the results of scientific research, and it rather aims to give individual institutions the opportunity to enhance their own Third Mission initiatives with greater social impact.

The panel has first coped with the delicate task of elaborating the criteria with which the submitted case studies will be assessed, using five quality levels (Excellent and extremely relevant, Excellent, Standard, Sufficient or low relevance). Specifically the social, economic and cultural dimension of the impact, the relevance in the context, the added value for the beneficiaries and the contribution of the submitting institution will be taken into account.

For more information on ANVUR activities on Third Mission and Impact evaluation, please browse the presentations.