Foto dall'alto del Politecnico di Torino e della città di Torino con elaborazione grafica PNRR
Research & Innovation

PNRR: the Politecnico takes part in six “extended partnerships” for basic research

The Politecnico is also taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the PNRR-National Recovery and Resilience Plan for basic research, by joining six new “Extended Partnerships” between Universities, Research Centres and public and private sector enterprises. These projects aim to strengthen research, improve production chains and Italy’s strategic positioning in value chains in specific topic areas identified by the Ministry of University and Research.

The partnerships are financed under PNRR Mission 4 “Education and Research”, Component 2 “From Research to Business”, Investment 1.3 “Partnerships extended to Universities, Research Centres, companies and funding of basic research projects.”

The University will receive a total of €44 million to work over the next three years in the following topical areas: Artificial Intelligence, Energy Scenarios of the Future, Environmental, Natural and Anthropogenic Risks, Cybersecurity, Circular and Sustainable Made in Italy, Future Telecommunications.

“The participation of the Politecnico di Torino in these six projects is an acknowledgement of the excellence of the research carried out by the university in these areas – comments Professor Matteo Sonza Reorda, Vice-Rector for Research at the PolitecnicoIn line with our strategic objectives and those of the PNRR, the funding received will be earmarked to further support research in these areas (with a significant increase in the number of PhD students and researchers involved), creating a critical mass with the other participating research bodies and ensuring that special attention is paid to the indications and needs of companies and organisations operating in these sectors. This is a unique opportunity, therefore, not only to develop a new generation of researchers, but also to further strengthen links with the social and economic context with which the Politecnico has always collaborated and coordinated.”

Below is specific information on the individual projects and the role of the Politecnico:

FAIR - Future Artificial Intelligence Research

The European Commission and Member States are seeking a strengthening of European leadership in Artificial Intelligence research. Cutting-edge research within the FAIR partnership will enable us to go far beyond the technologies currently available: we need Artificial Intelligence systems capable of interacting and collaborating with humans, of perceiving and acting within evolving settings, capable of adapting to new situations, interacting appropriately in complex social environments. They need to be developed carefully, considering the environmental and social impact that their implementation and deployment may entail.

The Politecnico will coordinate the FAIR “EDGE and EXASCALE AI” Spoke. It will develop a new type of supercomputing that enables extremely complex problems to be solved by processing information rapidly, thanks to the ability to operate from the cloud’s infinitely small (edge) to the infinitely large (exascale). The goal is multiple: to adapt existing artificial intelligence algorithms to the needs of these new computing systems, to design new algorithms optimised for Edge and Exascale hardware and, finally, to address the sustainability of the artificial intelligence algorithms, be they new or adapted.

“We are living through a historical moment of great changes in the field of AI, with foundational results in the field of basic research that rapidly become innovations and then products – emphasises Professor Barbara Caputo of the Department of Automatics and Informatics - DAUIN, head of the project for the Politecnico – Results that have recently made the headlines, such as the new chatGPT software capable of automatically generating complex texts on an enormous variety of topics, make us realise how a control over this technology is fundamental for the country system as a whole. The Politecnico di Torino is especially taking on the computational challenge of AI: is what runs on the supercomputer of a foreign tech giant also good enough for a chip the size of a lentil installed on a drone? How do you go from algorithms designed for an exascale computer to algorithms for satellites in deep space? That is the challenge we are going to face in this project.”

  • Project promoter: CNR - National Research Council
  • Scientific manager at the Politecnico di Torino: Barbara Caputo, DAUIN - Department of Automation and Informatics
  • Total budget of the FAIR Extended Partnership: €122 million
  • Politecnico di Torino budget: €5.43 million

NEST - Network 4 Energy Sustainable Transition

The NEST project’s programme aims to develop environmentally and socially resilient technologies for the conversion and use of energy from renewable and sustainable sources for energy production and distribution, with the additional objective of being less subject to the risks of the current fossil fuel supply system. The ambition is to build an Italian leadership, by integrating territory and companies, able to support future development towards sustainable and de-carbonised energy production and distribution.

An effective energy storage infrastructure is, however, crucial for achieving ambitious targets for the deployment of renewable energy sources and for the decarbonisation of production processes. The Politecnico will lead the efforts of the “Energy Storage” Spoke, in order to obtain new technologies (from individual components to systems) and solutions to address the specific issues related to different energy carriers: short- and long-term storage of thermal, mechanical (from renewable energy) and thermochemical energy, state-of-the-art solutions for new generations of batteries, chemical storage based on innovative disruptive concepts such as reactive metals and photocharged nanoparticles. Global environmental aspects will be considered alongside the technical effectiveness.

“This is an ambitious project that aims to look at the energy transition with a holistic approach, where the goal is not only technological innovation, but also to understand which combination of innovative technologies, in production, storage, transport and end uses, is preferable for a wide adoption of renewable sources in our energy system and to increase its resilience – says Professor Romano Borchiellini of the Energy-DENERG Department, Director of the University Energy Centre, manager of this project for the University – The Politecnico di Torino, in addition to leadership on the topic of storage, will contribute to the activities of off-shore renewables, biofuels, smart sector integration, and optimisation of renewable energy communities. Topics on which the Politecnico will be able to make an important contribution thanks to the research already under way in our Departments and also thanks to the experience gained in the Energy Centre; on this matter, I would like to point out that there aren’t many universities that have dedicated an entire building to the subject of energy.”

  • Project promoter: Politecnico di Bari
  • Scientific manager at the Politecnico di Torino: Romano Borchiellini, DENERG-Energy Department
  • NEST Extended Partnership Budget: €118.17 million
  • Politecnico di Torino budget: €9 million

RETURN - Multi-Risk Science for Resilient Communities Under a Changing Climate

The RETURN Partnership works towards a better understanding and management of risks on the ground, whether environmental, natural or man-made, with the aim of improving the ability to forecast impacts and methodologies for better prevention, adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change.

Key competences and technology transfer capacities will be strengthened to improve environmental risk management in our country across the entire spectrum from basic research (low TRL) involving large corporations and more dynamic players, such as start-ups and spin-offs, as well as Public Administration and some metropolitan cities.

The Politecnico will coordinate the Spoke “Multi-Risk Resilience of Critical Infrastructures”, whose task is to define, develop and test new approaches to risk assessment and reduction for the most important infrastructures in Italy. The Spoke’s activities will focus on natural hazards and accidental causes of crisis, in order to produce new dynamic national maps for the classification of hazards for critical links and nodes of the main road, rail, water and utility network infrastructures, as well as for critical infrastructures, such as dams, power generation plants, drinking water and waste water treatment plants. The ultimate goal is to make citizens’ lives safer by adapting infrastructure to the impacts of climate change.

“In Italy, infrastructures play their crucial role for the country’s development in a rugged, fragile territory, subject to a plurality of natural hazards and increasing weather and climate hazards – comments Professor Pierluigi Claps of the Department of Environmental, Land and Infrastructure Engineering-DIATI, scientific manager of the project for the Politecnico di Torino – In the RETURN project, the Politecnico di Torino has promoted the need to systematically assess and manage risks to the country’s critical infrastructures, providing the multi-disciplinary expertise required to link the project’s objectives to the European Directives currently being drawn up.”

  • Project promoter: University of Naples Federico II
  • Scientific manager at the Politecnico di Torino: Pierluigi Claps, DIATI - Department of Environmental, Land and Infrastructure Engineering
  • Total budget of the RETURN Extended Partnership: €120.76 million
  • Politecnico di Torino budget: €6.66 million

SERICS - SEcurity and RIghts in the CyberSpace

The interconnection of our lives with telecommunications and data sharing infrastructures exposes us to criminal activities aimed at restricting access to data, goods or services that are fundamental to individual and community life. Almost all governments worldwide recognise the need to ensure security in this no longer new, but rather increasingly dominant, domain of cyberspace. At every level, individual, business, either large or small, citizen services and public administration, it is vital to ensure the highest level of security and resilience, to protect sensitive data, but also production and economic cycles, as well as values and the right to information free from fake news and interference. SERICS’ goal is to develop systems that are technically effective, yet respect the rights of individuals and the community, starting with the rights of privacy.

The Politecnico will lead the “Infrastructure security” Spoke, which aims to develop the technologies required for the national technological infrastructures of the future, for an increased security with less dependence on third-party technologies. More specifically, contributions will be made to the state of the art of cybersecurity in terms of knowledge, techniques, methodologies and tools for the management of cyber risk and of databases for cyber security.

“Neglecting research into the security of critical infrastructures means playing a dangerous game with the lives and safety of millions of people, since a single breach in these systems could lead to catastrophic consequences that could paralyse entire nations – explains Professor Stefano Di Carlo of the Department of Automation and Informatics-DAUIN, scientific manager of the project for the Politecnico – Within the SERICS project, the Politecnico di Torino is a candidate reference point at national level to raise awareness in the Country as system and avert national emergencies and critical issues.”

  • Project promoter: University of Salerno
  • Scientific manager for the Politecnico di Torino: Stefano Di Carlo, DAUIN - Department of Automation and Informatics
  • Total budget of the SERICS Extended Partnership: €116.35 million
  • Politecnico di Torino budget: €8.97 million

MICS - Circular and Sustainable Made in Italy

This Extended Partnership is committed to modernising and making the Made in Italy system more competitive in the “Clothing”, “Furniture” and “Automotive-Mechanics” supply chains, with a strong circular and sustainable imprint. Despite the acknowledged quality both in terms of products and design of the Made in Italy, the future changes and challenges require continuous innovation to achieve a more complete digitalisation and a new sustainability along the entire production chain. The collaboration between research institutes and companies, both large and small and medium-sized, will guarantee a boost to our Made in Italy, thus responding to the need for quality goods, while respecting the environment, for the benefit of everyone’s future.

Specifically, the Politecnico will coordinate the Spoke “Additive Manufacturing as disruptive enabler of the Twin Transition”. Additive Manufacturing will enable the creation of a new generation of sustainable products: through innovative designs and techniques, inspired by new technologies and nature, thanks to new materials developed within the partnership, recycling and reuse of waste materials, the Politecnico aims to make zero-waste production possible, hence contributing to the achievement of the twin transition to a sustainable and digital economy.

“Made in Italy products, especially the high-end ones, are internationally recognised for the quality of their design and technical characteristics – comments Professor Federica Bondioli, lecturer at the Department of Applied Science and Technology-DISAT and scientific head of the partnership for the Politecnico – In order to remain a leader on the international scene and maintain a high level of competitiveness, Italy is required to undergo a transformation that aligns it with the major issues of sustainable and circular production. The MICS partnership will therefore have these objectives for the three pivotal Made in Italy sectors of ‘Clothing’, ‘Furniture’ and ‘Automation-Mechanics’.”

  • Project promoter: Politecnico di Milano
  • Scientific manager at the Politecnico di Torino: Federica Bondioli, DISAT - Department of Applied Science and Technology
  • Total budget of the MICS Extended Partnership: €114.5 million
  • Politecnico di Torino budget: €9.14 million

RESTART - RESearch and innovation on future Telecommunications systems and networks, to make Italy more smART

Telecommunications already form the fabric of our societies, allowing news, ideas and feelings to be shared. Our way of life could not be fulfilled economically, socially and culturally without telecommunications networks.

Future telecommunications infrastructures will play a key role in the Post-Information Society as the backbone of the interconnection between the human, digital and physical worlds to enable applications and services in the most diverse sectors (agriculture, trade, energy, finance, manufacturing/industry, media, health, security, transport) and will become critical infrastructures of our modern societies, even more than they are today.

RESTART is a research programme that integrates key stakeholders in the telecommunications sector, promoting and integrating the scientific and technological advancement of telecommunications into society, encompassing all types of systems and networks (e.g. 5G/6G, Internet of Things) with applications and services in all sectors. It aims not only at improving the performance of telecommunication infrastructures, such as capacity, coverage, service availability, reliability, energy efficiency, location accuracy, data rates, but also at achieving key society values such as reliability, inclusiveness and sustainability of communications that meet human and social needs.

The Politecnico will lead the “Programmable Networks for Future Services and Media” Spoke, dedicated to research on technologies for fully autonomous, green and digitised networks and services.

“RESTART is a unique opportunity for the telecommunications sector in general, and for the Politecnico di Torino in particular, to further highlight the role of telecommunications as essential technologies for the digital transformation of our Country – explains Professor Carla Fabiana Chiasserini, lecturer at the Department of Electronics and Telecommunications-DET and project leader for the Politecnico – We are delighted that the Politecnico di Torino will be the centre of activity on programmable networks and services of the future, and that our research will enable applications that are fundamental for the progress of our society.”

  • Project promoter: University of Rome, Tor Vergata
  • Scientific manager at the Politecnico di Torino: Carla Fabiana Chiasserini, DET - Department of Electronics and Telecommunications
  • Total budget of the RESTART Extended Partnership: €116 million
  • Politecnico di Torino budget: €4.84 million