The VERA Centre aims at improving resilience in economics and society, preventing, predicting, measuring, and managing risks thanks to the use of big data sources. Big data has changed the way that we understand existing social challenges, and it has created entirely new research questions, which call for advances in science. The goal of the VERA Centre is to investigate these questions focusing on three main thematic macro-areas of interest in public policy making: welfare and wellbeing, environment, macroeconomics and finance.

Main research activities

Analysis of social risks related to welfare system and wellbeing

The challenge is to understand how to ensure economic growth and social wellbeing for a socio-economic system with complex structure and dynamics. The complexity of the relationships between markets, institutions and public authorities makes the decision process even more difficult. A first response to this challenge is the opportunity to analyse and integrate big data from different sources (individual micro-data, experimental data, big data from administrative records, georeferenced data, etc.) to support the decision making process.

Analysis of environmental and climate risks and related impacts

Economic analysis at territorial level for disaster risk assessment and management, including the analysis of the different physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes such as climate change, overconsumption of natural resources, poverty and inequality. Big data from sensor networks and from social media provide the opportunity to improve disaster risk prediction and management.

Analysis of financial and macro-economic risks

Analysis and evaluation of financial and macroeconomic risks, also in cooperation with financial authorities. The activity and regulation of financial markets produce a large amount of data that can be an essential source of information for a deep understanding of the agent behaviour and the markets dynamics. Big data can be used in the supervisory activity to measure and manage financial risksmarket instabilities and sustainability.

Research projects

European, national and local projects of the Department of Economics related to relevant research topics of VERA Center during the period 2018-2022.

European projects

The aim of the project is to implement a methodology to include environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in credit analysis and ratings, including specifically the impact of climate change. Given that ESG factors measure the firm’s sustainability and its ethical skills, the project investigates how those factors affect the creditworthiness of a firm measured by credit ratings over time. Moreover, the project includes in the analysis the impact that climate change could exert over a firm belonging to a certain industry. The expected result of the ESG – project is to introduce augmented credit rating which include ESG factors and climate change scenarios.

Principal Investigator: Monica Billio

Duration: December 2019 - November 2022


The Energy Efficient Mortgage Market Implementation Plan (EeMMIP) will build on efforts to develop Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) by delivering an integrated market and a blueprint for established and emerging markets around the globe. The Project will conduct an analysis of the current market systems relevant to the development of an EEM market and establish demonstrators to support the end-to-end customer journey and EEM life-cycle. It will establish market-based governance and an EEM Label to support recognition of and confidence in EEM and facilitate access to quality information for market participants. The project will deliver guidance for the inclusion of energy efficiency in credit risk assessments for lending institutions and supervisors and policy recommendations for the prudential framework in line with the principle of risk sensitivity and promote a well-functioning banking market.
EeMMIP will build on and complement the ongoing efforts under the Energy Efficient Mortgage Initiative (EEMI), which brings together the ongoing EU-funded Energy Efficient Mortgages Action Plan (EeMAP) and Energy Efficient Data Portal & Protocol (EeDaPP) Initiatives, by moving beyond the design of the product to deliver an integrated market for the EEM product.

Principal Investigator: Monica Billio

Duration: 2020 - 2022

ENERGYA will improve our understanding of how energy and energy services can be used by households and industries to adapt to the risk posed by climate change. Specifically, the project will develop an interdisciplinary and scalable research framework integrating data and methods from economics with geography, climate science, and integrated assessment modelling to provide new knowledge concerning heterogeneity in energy use across countries, sectors, socioeconomic conditions and income groups, and assess the broad implications adaptation-driven energy use can have on the economy, the environment, and welfare. ENERGYA has three main objectives:

  1. Analyze historical data on energy use in relation to climate and weather. The project will produce novel statistical and econometric analyses for OECD and major emerging countries (Brazil, Mexico, India, and Indonesia) to shed light on the underlying mechanisms driving energy use;
  2. Develop future scenarios of climate-induced energy demand at global scale, building on the historical empirical evidence;
  3. Asses the environmental and socio-economic implications of future energy needs across and within countries.

Principal Investigator: Enrica De Cian

Duration: March 2018 - February2023

The 2015 Paris Agreement is a key step towards strengthening a global response to address the threat of climate change. It sets global objectives that all signatory countries have to contribute to achieve through the implementation of urgent actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate-resilience and low-carbon development. ACTION project aims at enhancing transparency and comparability among countries’ climate change policies while offering insights into a fair and just transition toward the sustainable development. The project will develop a quantitative approach to empirically assess national climate policies in terms of severity, drivers and economic impact. Project results will assist policymakers in understanding the effectiveness of coordinated policy efforts and design their future climate agenda. ACTION will be hosted in two highly qualified institutions: during the outgoing phase (24 months) at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, under the guidance of Prof. Aldy, and during the incoming phase (12 months) at the Department of Economics of Ca’ Foscari University. The supervisor of the project is Prof. Enrica De Cian.

Principal Investigator: Marinella Davide

Duration: February 2020 - January 2023

SHARE, the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, is a research infrastructure to better understand and cope with the challenges and chances of population ageing. The main objective of SHARE is to provide excellent data for aging research through a combination of (a) transdisciplinarity, (b) longitudinality and (c) European coverage with strict cross-national comparability through ex-ante harmonisation. With its recent seventh wave, SHARE succeeded in covering all EU member states in cooperation with the British Isles Surveys (UK and Ireland). The coverage of all EU member states (plus Switzerland and Israel) is particularly attractive for both scientific and Commission users because it permits cross-national comparisons of the economic, health and social situation of EU citizens aged 50 and over and allows for comparative evaluations of aging-related policies such as pension, health and long-term care reforms. The project will support the supra-national innovation and development tasks during Waves 8-10 of SHARE, thereby improving the scientific state-of-the-art of SHARE and cross-national cohesion across all 28 SHARE member countries. It addresses all seven targets of this call and the related sustainability criteria. Scientific innovation encompasses new questionnaire content including device-based measures; development encompasses more efficient survey methods including new electronic tools.

Principal Investigator: Agar Brugiavini

Duration: October 2019 - September 2023

SmartCulTour aims to support regional development in European regions, with special attention to rural peripheries and the urban fringe, through sustainable cultural tourism. The project redefines cultural tourism through a contemporary lens and provides a comprehensive measurement framework for supply, demand and impacts. In order to support knowledge-led destination management, a decision-support system (DSS) will be developed for wide-scale monitoring purposes across European regions. The DSS will synthesize both traditional and non-traditional data sources, the latter particularly related to big data analytics, thereby assisting smart regional development. Besides a contribution to conceptual development and cultural tourism measurement, the main objective of SmartCulTour relates to the facilitation of community-led rural development through field experimentation in 6 living labs. Prior to these living labs, a comprehensive desk research will identify significant sustainable cultural tourism policies, their impacts and critical success factors. These best cases will inspire a series of possible local interventions. Within the living labs, novel creative approaches to stakeholder engagement are tested, notably arts-based methods, serious games, and service design which will help to provide local context and support. A toolkit will be designed to help destinations implement local actions towards sustainable cultural tourism development. SmartCulTour will therefore contribute to theory development, empirical validation of best practices within a living labs setting, and procedural development, particularly by providing European regions with a set of strategies to optimally engage with stakeholders and co-create sustainable cultural tourism experiences.

SmartCulTour Platform

Principal Investigator: Nicola Camatti

Duration: 2020 - 2024

Improving access to long-term finance for Energy Efficiency (EE) projects is key to achieve the EU2030 targets and aligning the COVID-19 recovery to the European Green Deal. However, the lack of standardized disclosure of EE investments limits firms’ access to EE financing. Further, poor understanding of EE information in ESG ratings increases the risk of greenwashing, thus preventing a smooth development of the sustainable finance market. TranspArEEnS addresses these barriers by mainstreaming a quali-quantitative framework for standardized collection and analysis of firms’ EE and ESG information and the development of a standardized EE-ESG rating. This serves as an EE-ESG filter to inform investment and financial policy decisions with regard to portfolios’ alignment to sustainability. A unique added value of this project is to cover non-listed Small and Medium Enterprises, meeting an important market need. TranspArEEnS’ EE-ESG rating will be tested in pilot case studies and capacity building sessions with leading representatives of the financial industry and supervisors. TranspArEEnS’ EE-ESG rating will be tested in pilot case studies and capacity building sessions with leading representatives of the financial industry and supervisors.
This allows to understand barriers and opportunities for its operationalization in:

  •     credit risk assessment;
  •     development of long-term EE-financing via securitization (covered bonds, European Secured Notes);
  •     introduction of EE-ESG considerations into monetary policies and prudential regulations.

By enhancing standardized disclosure of EE investing, TranspArEEnS will decrease uncertainty in the EE and ESG market, thus promoting the scaling up of new EE financing and investment opportunities in the EU. Moreover, it will help to mitigate the risk of greenwashing thus improving financial stability.


Principal Investigator: Monica Billio

Duration: June 2021 - December 2023

WaterLANDS aims to enable an upscaling of the restoration of wetlands. Socio-economic factors, insufficient stakeholder engagement, lack of government commitment, lack of funding and inadequate exchange of knowledge of restoration methods have all been identified as barriers to successful restoration. Consequently, most restoration has been modest in scale, has occurred mainly where there is a single landowning or responsible organisation, and has often been undertaken principally for reasons of conservation.

WaterLANDS will work to overcome these barriers. It includes both Action and Knowledge Sites, the former being the object of restoration upscaling, and the latter a source of best practice experience and knowledge. To provide for local support and sustainability, it will aim for the co-design of restoration with the on-going engagement of communities and stakeholders. It will investigate best practice in ecological restoration which meets both biodiversity and social objectives and for which restoration trajectories are specific to the physical and cultural context of the Action Sites.

It will propose supportive governance structures appropriate to this process and to local and national circumstances. It will identify business models, economic incentives and international funding sources and tailor or direct these resources for each site. The project will pull this expertise and knowledge together in a cocreation work package. Process-indicators will be developed to enable on-going assessment of restoration success in terms of ecosystem services, socioeconomic embedding and financial sustainability, to ensure wide-scale restoration which catalyses scalability beyond the life of the WaterLANDS project.

Principal Investigator: Carlo Giupponi

Duration: October 2021 - September 2026

ESG-UPTAKE is a project, funded by EU Commission DG-Reform and coordinated by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, to strengthen the capacity EU Member States' National Competent Authorities (NCAs) to monitor and address ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and climate risks in the financial sector.
Specifically, the project supports a selected group of 11 NCAs in identifying, monitoring, and assessing the impact of ESG risks on their supervised entities and the entire financial sector.
ESG-UPTAKE aims to facilitate the uptake and implementation of a risk-based supervisory approach to assess and mitigate ESG and climate risks. This approach is complemented by reporting systems, data, and methodologies based on best practices. This, in turn, will enhance NCAs' ability to manage ESG risks promptly and appropriately (including through ESG and climate stress-tests), assess and oversee compliance with ESG and climate-related disclosure and reporting requirements, thereby contributing to informing the adoption of appropriate supervisory responses.


Principal Investigator: Monica Billio

Duration: September 2023 - August 2026

National projects

High dimensional modelling and large dataset handling have gain attention in Economics and Finance, given also the recent surge of publicly available data. One of the key challenges of high-dimensional models is the complex interactions among variables and the inferential difficulty associated with handling large datasets. The project Hi-Di NET deals with the 3 key aspects for forecasting and structural analysis: network effects and interconnectedness; time variation in the relationships; large cross section of variables and high dimension databases. It is organised in 3 WPs dealing with: inclusion of network into time series analysis to deal with dynamics and time dependence; inference on observed and latent networks and identification issues; use of large datasets and related computational challenges. The aim is to develop novel multivariate econometric models and efficient methods suitable for high dimension databases and able to deal with network effects and time varying relationships.
From an applied perspective, the Hi-Di NET project will deal with the central theme of financial and macroeconomic stability, declined in 3 empirical vertical streams related to highly relevant topics: systemic risk, uncertainty impact and new fintech instruments.


Project coordinator: Monica Billio, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Roberto Casarin, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Giuseppe Cavaliere
, University of Bologna
Luca Fanelli, University of Bologna
Massimo Guidolin, Bocconi University
Massimiliano Giuseppe Marcellino
, Bocconi University
Francesco Ravazzolo, University of Bozen

Sustainable finance is witnessing unprecedented growth in the sheer value of assets and instruments that account for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors under various labelling schemes. Unprecedented regulatory developments have also unfolded in Europe (e.g., the introduction of the EU Taxonomy of sustainable activities) and correspondingly, a number of initiatives by financial supervisors have emerged at the global level. Measuring and managing risks related to the sustainability transition is a key scientific challenge with enormous societal impact since it is a precondition to our ability to build a more sustainable and resilient society. Fin4Green addresses this challenge by developing quantitative approaches, both in an econometric and finance perspectives, for a robust assessment and management of financial risks related to sustainability. The project aims to deliver actionable knowledge that can inform the design of policies to support the sustainability transition. This will allow to enable the pivotal role of the private finance sector towards a Sustainable, Green and Resilient Society, and to preserve the financial stability.


Project coordinator: Monica Billio, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Roberto Casarin, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Giuseppe Cavaliere, University of Bologna
Paolo Giudici, University of Pavia
Massimo Guidolin, Bocconi University

The rapid social, economic, and technological transformations characterizing our society in the recent years are producing several effects on many complex and dynamic processes of human health. The project focus in particular, on the recent upward trend in longevity, and on its relation with current and future morbidity and disability patterns. The joint analysis of such processes, which plays a key role in many public health systems, requires novel qualitative and quantitative paradigms. The main objective of the project SELECT is to explore the factors and mechanisms of longevity evolution in the recent years and link them with morbidity trends to foster healthy longevity. The goal of this project is to take a relevant step forward in addressing the above problems by relying on a highly interconnected and multidisciplinary team with experience in Demography, Epidemiology, Social Science and Data Science. The team will take advantage from the availability of several datasets to merge public health and epidemiological theories with a data-driven approach based on innovative models.


Project coordinator: Stefano Campostrini, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Stefano Mazzuco, University of Padova
Daniele Durante, Bocconi University
Fabrizio Faggiano, University of Piemonte Orientale


This project will demonstrate how high-frequency (daily) electricity consumption data can be used to estimate the causal, short-run impact of exogenous shocks, such as COVID-19 on the economy. In the current uncertain economic conditions, timeliness is essential for effective policy making. Unlike official statistics, our approach can monitor virtually in real-time the level of economic activities, the impact of the containment policies and the extent of the recession. We will also be able to measure whether the monetary and fiscal stimuli introduced are effective in addressing the crisis.


Project coordinator: Francesco Ravazzolo, University of Bozen
Roberto Casarin, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Davide Ferrari, University of Bozen
Carlo Fezzi, University of Trento

Local projects

A protocol agreement between Ca’Foscari University of Venice (departments of Economics and Management), the Comando Regionale Veneto of the Italian finance Police, and Infocamere and Unioncamere Veneto was drawn up in June 2021, for a collaboration that aims to observe and analyze entrepreneurial dynamics in the Veneto region, and the related risk factors related to potential criminal infiltrations.

A round table for sharing data, approaches and methods in order to address and further investigate the issue of legality within the regional economic system.

The collaboration is supported by Regione del Veneto, that aims to be involved in the round table for analysis and research. 

This is part of the activities within the framework of the Excellence Project of the Department of Economics, linked to the main research topics of the VERA Center, focusing in particular on the use of big data to support public policies.

The primary goal is to develop a series of experimental research activities for the implementation of both quantitative and qualitative indicators and the definition of new tools for monitoring illegality risk areas in the economy, with a specific focus on economic and financial factors that are a marker of illegal behaviors by companies. The analysis will focus also on the differences and changes between pre-pandemic, current and post-pandemic periods.

The project, carried out by the 13 Orders of Chartered Accountants and Auditors of North- East Regions in cooperation with the Department of Economics-VERA Centre, developed an analysis of  firms performance in the North-East regions (Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia). The proposed indicator combines both balance sheet information and opinion of experts by using quantitative methods. The project aims to study also the relationship between the performance and the network structure of the firms with special attention to the topology of interlocking directorate network, the degree of openness of the firm governance, the human capital endowment and the complexity of the firm competences.
The analysis will be conducted on data from the Bureau Van Dijk AIDA dataset and will make use of econometrics and machine learning techniques.
A research grant is funded by the Order of Chartered Accountants and Auditors of Treviso on the following theme: «A Big Data approach to firms heterogeneity and interlocking directorate».

Ca' Foscari University Research Team:
Riccardo Busin

Roberto Casarin

Giancarlo Corò
Fausto Corradin
Mario Volpe
Tullio Buccellato



VERA Research Prize for publication of papers in high quality journals

In May 2020, the VERA Management Board set up a Research Prize to increase the publication of papers in high quality journals by Economics Department scholars.
The Research Prize established a ranking list of journals in the fields of Economics, Econometrics and Statistics, Finance, Operations Research and Management Science, Regional Studies, Planning and Environment, Social Sciences.
The list is mainly based on the Tilburg University Ranking database and on the Academic Journal Guide of 2018 and takes into consideration the journals classified ANVUR - class A.

VERA selected publications

Other publications


From a methodological point of view, the research activity of the Centre requires the development of:

  • new methods and econometrics models for the analysis of large databases, high frequency data and georeferenced data, taking into particular consideration the interaction with other disciplines such as statistics, mathematics and machine learning;
  • agent based model and multi-agent model for simulating interactions among heterogeneous actors to evaluate effects and impacts on the policy decisions system;
  • lab and field experiments is a prerequisite for the link between different techniques of data collection, data analysis and data modelling in economic and social fields.

Researchers at the Department of Economics already have experience and produce scientific results in these fields making it possible to develop frontier research, and applied research over the five years of the project (and beyond).