The scientific goal of the Ignitor experiment is to approach, for the first time, the ignition conditions of a magnetically confined D-T plasma. The IGNIR collaboration between Italy and Russia is centred on the construction of the core of the Ignitor machine in Italy and its installation and operation within the Triniti site (Troitsk). A parallel initiative has developed that integrates this programme, involving the study of plasmas in which high-energy populations are present, with ongoing research in high-energy astrophysics, with a theory effort involving the National Institute for High Mathematics, and with INFN and the University of Pisa for the development of relevant nuclear and optical diagnostics. The construction of the main components of the machine core has been fully funded by the Italian Government. Therefore, considerable attention has been devoted towards identifying the industrial groups having the facilities necessary to build these components. An important step for the Ignitor programme is the adoption of the superconducting MgB2 material for the largest poloidal field coils (P14) that is compatible with the He-gas cooling system designed for the entire machine. The progress made in the construction of these coils is described. An important advance has been made in the reconfiguration of the cooling channels of the toroidal magnet that can double the machine duty cycle. A facility has been constructed to test the most important components of the ICRH system at full scale, and the main results of the tests carried out are presented. The main physics issues that the Ignitor experiment is expected to face are analysed considering the most recent developments in both experimental observations and theory for weakly collisional plasma regimes. Of special interest is the I-regime that has been investigated in depth only recently and combines advanced confinement properties with a high degree of plasma purity. This is a promising alternative to the high-density L-regime that had been observed by the Alcator experiment and whose features motivated the Ignitor project. The provisions that are incorporated in the machine design, and in that of the plasma chamber in particular, in order to withstand or prevent the development of macroscopic instabilities with deleterious amplitudes are presented together with relevant analyses. © 2013 IAEA, Vienna.