AXES - Laboratory for the Analysis of
compleX Economic Systems


The mission of AXES is to promote scientific research excellence in economics, exploiting a variety of theoretical and empirical tools to study policy relevant issues.

The Laboratory for the Analysis of CompleX Economis Systems (AXES) is a research unit whose work spans different fields of economics: from economic theory to applied econometrics, from international economics to political economy, from spatial and urban economics to industrial organization and business economics. We all share a common interest in original economic research that provides information critical to policy-making with a problem-solving approach.
In our research we are keen to incorporate skills and tools from different disciplines, including graph theory, the physics of complex systems, data science or political science. In fact, we believe that a modern approach in economics requires considering the solution of economic problems more important than sticking to academic disciplines. Under such a multidisciplinary perspective, we strive to utilize the most recent developments in big data and machine learning, seeking to combine them with more traditional econometric approaches in our research.

Our research group contributes to the PhD track in Economics, Networks and Business Analytics (ENBA)


Visiting Professors and Collaborators from other institutions:

Research Topics

The AXES research team is currently active on a variety of research streams:

  • Competitiveness of companies, industries and countries in the age of globalization
  • Global value chains and global production networks
  • Innovation, Knowledge production and competitive advantage
  • Instability and growth in industries and firms
  • Systemic Risk and Financial Crises
  • Stochastic modelling
  • Political economy
  • Spatial/Urban economy
  • The shadow economy
  • Socio-economic networks


  • Boston University
  • ETH Zurich
  • École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
  • Ispra European Research Center
  • KU Leuven
  • Maastricht University
  • UC Berkeley
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Reading
  • University of Warwick
  • University of Greenwich
  • SPRU, University of Sussex
  • INSEAD, Paris
  • Aix-Marseille School of Economics (AMSE)
  • University of Alicante
  • Politecnico di Milano
  • Università di Trento
  • Università di Torino
  • Università di Siena
  • Università Politecnica delle Marche
  • Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
  • IUSS Pavia

The research unit collaborates with several research teams worldwide including: Center for Polymer Studies at Boston University COSY, Aalto University Department MSI, K.U. Leuven OECD, Paris Department of Economics, University of Trento Politecnico of Turin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of California at Berkeley, Toulouse School of Economics, Paris School of Economics, European University Institute, Libera Universitè Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli di Roma, University of Bologna and University of Modena.

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.

FIRB Futuro in Ricerca 2012 Linea 3 - ViWaN, The global virtual-water network: social, economic, and environmental implications: social, economic, and environmental implications. This project will analyze the largely unexplored implications of globalization of water inherent in the food trade. Are involved in the project: Politecnico di Torino, Francesco Laio, Associate professor in Water Engineering; IMT Lucca, Massimo Riccaboni, Associate prof. in Economy and Management; Università di Trento, Stefano Schiavo, Associate professor in Political Economics; Università di Firenze, Elisa Masi, Assistant professor in Agronomy.

PRIN 2009 World Trade Networks - Empirical Analysis and Theoretical Models

European Commission

Other grants:

  • EXODUS - Emigration of High-Skilled Individuals due to Short-Term Contracts
  • Istituzioni, dinamiche sociali e sviluppo economico (PRIN 2009)
  • Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO, Belgium), 2013: The Nature and Consequences of Firms' Involvement and Collaboration in Basic Research The aim of the research project is to examine the nature and consequences of firms' involvement in basic scientific research. Promoter: René Belderbos (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven); Co-promoters: Leten Bart (KU Leuven), Massimo Riccaboni (IMT Lucca), Kelchtermans Stijn (Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel).

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.