11 “laboratories” (which soon will become 12 with the launch of a new research area dedicated to sustainability) are distributed throughout Italy and employ more than 100 researchers working on cross-cutting areas such as advanced logistics, AI, new materials, high-performance computing, quantum, sensors and cloud.
Alessandro Massa, to whom Leonardo has assigned the task of coordinating this new disruptive network, explains the company's rationale: “Leonardo Labs is a network of technological incubators, launched in 2020, which support all aspects of engineering in Leonardo’s lines of business, with research and development of the most innovative technologies, exploration of emerging new technologies, and anticipation of future demands on the market. These laboratories are the driving force of innovation, maximising their proximity to Leonardo's main industrial sites and their respective territories.”
The decision to invest in the Labs stems from an important need, not just for Leonardo but for Italy as a whole; namely, that of developing specialist skills which are still difficult to find in cutting-edge contexts.
Indeed, the Labs of the group led by Alessandro Profumo are still recruiting, with the aim of reaching a total of 200 researchers by the end of next year in a number of areas, including: artificial intelligence, cloud computing, computational capabilities applied to simulations and cloud applications using Genoa's davinci-1 supercomputer; electrification; digital twins and advanced simulations; materials; quantum mechanics; robotic applications; big data; and optronics.
The challenge, in short, is to imagine solutions that don't yet exist but will soon need to be in place: “We are at the beginning of a new era,” Massa concludes, “and it is very important to understand and dominate these new paradigms.”
With an investment in Research and Development that reached EUR 1.8 billion last year (+16%) and 9,600 people employed in this sector, Leonardo considers the pursuit of sustainability a key element of its corporate strategy. “Through the value chain, we aim to strengthen our impact on the outside world, at all stages, from production to after-sales,” explains Renata Mele, Leonardo's Head of Sustainability and a physicist by training. “In early 2023 – with selections starting from mid-December – we will be launching the twelfth Lab, which will be entirely dedicated to sustainability.”
The newspaper then focuses on the “magnificent 10 who are studying the evolving world”, dedicating a brief profile to some of the research fellows who have started their journey in the Leonardo Labs: mathematicians, physicists, engineers and computer scientists, from Italy and beyond.