AXES - Laboratory for the Analysis of
compleX Economic Systems


"Data before analysis. Analysis before policy or prescription." (Simon Kuznets)

We provide both empirical and theoretical foundations for the analysis of complexity in economic, industrial and socio technical systems.
Institutions and economic processes are deeply interconnected, with a remarkable number of interdependencies. The structure and dynamics of these interconnections are relevant for both analysis and policy. For example, they play a key role if one wants to assess and measure the fragility of a variety of economic systems as well as to design policy frameworks that can positively contribute to maintain systemic stability and sustain reactions to systemic crises.
Moreover, AXES research team relies upon a variety of techniques to analyse processes of economic growth at different levels of aggregation within the economy. In particular, AXES is active in the economic analysis of the international biopharmaceutical industry, in collaboration with LIME.
Based on a unique combination between quantitative analysis and relevant contextual knowledge, AXES has developed a specific focus on the sustainability of welfare and health care systems in relation to ageing, through microsimulation models, long term projections exercises, and policy analysis.

Our research group is closely related to the :


Visiting Professors and Collaborators from other institutions:

Research Topics

The AXES research team is currently active on a variety of projects and streams of activity, ranging from several EU projects (FOC, MultipleX), to large projects funded by the Italian Ministry for Research and Education (Crisis Lab, in collaboration with the ISC Institute at the NCR), to large international projects (SWITCH)

  • Study of Contagion Processes in the Financial Network: In cases of pandemic flu, it is possible to obtain an accurate description of the epidemic outbreak by considering the topology of transportation network and even the queries of people on search engines. In both Crisis Lab and FOC we are applying a similar approach to analyse the propagation of financial distress within economic and financial networks.
  • Growth and Instability of Economic Systems

In the context of the Crisis Lab project, we rely upon a variety of advanced computational and numerical methods, statistical and econometric techniques, concepts from the theory of scale-invariant phenomena, and concepts from self-organized systems to analyze growth and instability in economic systems at different levels of aggregation.

  • Analysis of Systemic Risk: We consider cascading domino-effect processes in networks, with particular reference to financial contagions which can lead to global crises. In FOC and in Crisis Lab we are currently investigating the resilience of networks in which the overload threshold of each node is not only heterogeneous but also dynamic, as it is related to the time dependent financial fragility that characterizes the nodes representing financial institutions.
  • "SWITCH: Sustainability of Welfare Systems, Innovation, and Competition in Health": SWITCH is an international research project dealing with the analysis of the long term evolution of welfare systems and their sustainability in relation to ageing and to other relevant processes. Moreover, SWITCH provides a unique setting for the analysis of the biopharmaceutical industry as an integrated system.


The theory and approach of complexity science is truly interdisciplinary. In our activity we will leverage our expertise in economics, econometrics and macroeconomic modelling. For the realization of accessible models of economic networks we will use competencies in Statistical Physics and Mathematics. Furthermore, for the analysis of data and visualization of networks we shall use expertise in computer sciences. For the identification of key socio-political issues and the development of feasible policy, we will employ competencies in political science.
We believe we are in a position to obtain in a very short time a prototype software platform where financial networks can be visualized and analyzed and future scenarios can be considered. This activity is currently the front line of research and represents the goal of many running (e.g. FOC) and proposed (e.g. Flagship Initiative FUTURICT) research projects. For this reason, focusing disconnected Italian competencies in a single interactive laboratory is a strategic move that can attract a significant portion of the total available funding. Furthermore, the creation of a new scientific hub in Lucca can attract many potential first class scientists of the future back to Italy. As a net effect, this will accelerate the reputation of the Lab at the international level.
The activities we forecast in this proposal fit well into the National Research Plan of Italy, where one of the (only eight) areas of research envisaged is the creation of an observatory for social and financial networks. The main goal is to provide financial regulators with new instruments to understand and control the economy. We therefore believe that policy makers will be particularly interested in such activities.


  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - ISC
  • Università Politecnica delle Marche
  • ETH Zurich
  • City University London
  • Yahoo! Research Lab Barcelona
  • European Central Bank
  • Central European University Budapest
  • Jozif Stefan Institute Ljubljana
  • Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Zagreb
  • Boston University
  • Institute for Scientific Interchange Torino
  • London Inst. for Mathematical Sciences
  • Universitat de Barcelona
  • University of Oxford

Projects and Funding

National funding (Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research)
MIUR "Progetto di interesse nazionale" Crisis Lab
The focus of the Crisis lab is to develop models using empirical data to describe the vulnerabilities of diverse socio-technical systems which have a complex underlying dependency structure. The globalization of our planet requires state-of-the-art methodologies for better understanding the dependency structure of multi-level systems which can be vulnerable to catastrophic failure.

European Commission
FP7: Project FOC - Forecasting Financial Crisis

Seminars and Conferences

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Job Positions

There is currently no open faculty position but we are continuosly scouting for smart people to be involved in our research projects or in our Ph.D. Programm. Do not hesitate to contact us to express your interest.
More information is available from the Faculty Job Opportunities section of IMT website.