In 1978 Italy was to become one of the first Western countries to sign an intergovernmental agreement with China for cooperation in science and technology. Over the years, S&T cooperation projects between the two countries have gradually increased and today have become an important part of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Italy.

In 2010 a Three-Year Plan for joint action was signed by the respective Prime Ministers in order to strengthen economic cooperation. In the same year, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the Italian Ministry of Public Administration and Innovation signed a framework agreement which established the model of cooperation between the two countries in the field of innovation diffusion. The agreement provided for the creation of 3 bilateral cooperation centres between Italy and China:

  • Centre for Design and Innovation coordinated on behalf of Italy by the Polytechnic University of Milan.
  • Centre for E-Government coordinated on behalf of Italy by the Polytechnic University of Turin.
  • Centre for Technology Transfer coordinated on behalf of Italy by the University of Bergamo and the Italy-China Innovation Forum, a platform that integrates scientific, technological and innovation resources between the two countries.

At the same time, in 2007 on the initiative of Città della Scienza and Campania Region, the SIEE Sino Italian Exchange Event was created in Naples, an event organized with the BAST-Beijing Association for Science and Technology and the Beijing Municipality.

In 2013, following an Interministerial agreement signed by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ICE-Italian Trade Agency, the Agency for Digital Italy and Città della Scienza, the Italian Government decided to coordinate the two events with the back-to-back formula, the China-Italy Innovation Forum and the Sino-Italian Exchange Event, entrusting the management of the unified program to Città della Scienza in Naples. The China-Italy Science, Technology & Innovation Week, the national platform of cooperation in S&T to China, has proved its ability to deliver results and strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

In 2014 the Ministry of Research decided to supplement the cooperation program by including, alongside technological exchanges, the cooperation between the humanistic and the scientific worlds. This was done by including in the program a new workspace for the spreading of scientific culture thereby contributing from the very start through cooperation between universities, Confucius Institutes and Città della Scienza to the development of exchange programs of exhibitions, events and mobility of students and teachers.

In 2015, at the Italian Ministry of Research a coordination committee for the China program was established, comprising all stakeholders from the worlds of research and universities. This was open to innovative start-ups, through MISE, and to the business world, by Confindustria (the Italian Confederation of Industry). On 16th November 2015, the first day of the China-Italy Science, Technology & Innovation Week, the Ministers Stefania Giannini and Wan Gang signed the Joint Statement which confirms the role of Science, Technology and Innovation as a strategic sector for bilateral cooperation and the financing of joint projects under the new Executive Program for Scientific and Technological Cooperation 2016-2018.