Turin’s Academy of Sciences was founded in 1757 as a private scientific society; in 1783, king Victor Amadeus III of Savoy instituted it as the Royal Academy, with the mission to foster scientific progress for the good of society.
Since its foundation, the Academy organized awards for technological innovations and the improvement of particularly important social and economic issues – many of which were truly relevant at the time and led to interesting new solutions being invented.
The first competition, in 1788, aimed to gather and reward new ideas about alternative employment opportunities for men who had worked as spinners, but were losing their jobs due to a crisis in silk harvesting. In the same year, another competition was at the origin of Turin’s public lighting system. In 1791, another allowed for the discovery of a plant-based blue dye.
Napoleon was honorary chair of the Academy in 1804, and created the Class of Littérature et Beaux arts, which in 1815 became known as the Class of Moral, historical and philological sciences. That was the year the Academy opened up to the humanities as well.
Among its members, the Academy has had no less than 27 Nobel prize winners (including Rita Levi Montalcini, Enrico Fermi, Max Planck, Guglielmo Marconi and Theodor Mommsen), 3 Fields Medals, an Abel Prize, 18 Feltrinelli Awards, 8 Balzan Awards, one president of the United States (Thomas Woodrow Wilson) and one Italian president (Luigi Einaudi).
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