The Institute for Economic Research, serving the regional economy since 1961

Prof. Barbara Antonioli Mantegazzini
Prof. Barbara Antonioli Mantegazzini

Institutional Communication Service

30 August 2021

In the year USI celebrates its 25th anniversary, one of its historical components also achieves an important milestone: the Institute for Economic Research (IRE), which turns sixty. As a natural consequence of its development course and to consolidate its operations, as of this year IRE sees the addition of deputy director and reference person responsible for the services the Institute provides to the region: Barbara Antonioli Mantegazzini, economist and researcher, who in Spring was appointed Adjunct professor at USI and Deputy Director of IRE.

"At IRE we indeed pursue all three of missions of USI: education (at Master's level, with the Master in International Tourism, and at PhD level), research, and providing services to the regional economy. The latter two are performed by combining academic research with a specific focus on the regional socio-economic context, its objectives and needs," explains Prof. Antonioli Mantegazzini. "In my role as reference person for the services IRE provides to the region, my goal is to continue to encourage applied research, capable of generating a positive impact on businesses and social welfare. In this respect, it is important to continue to share and discuss the results with our stakeholders, in a logic of mutual exchange and constant interaction".

IRE is an academic institute that performs research covering various fields of regional and urban economics, implying also the observation and empirical analysis on regional development and growth, competitiveness, labor market and migration, transport, mobility, tourism, public finances and energy markets. The institute, which operates through a service contract with the Department of Finance and Economy (DFE) of the Canton of Ticino, traditionally represents a point of reference in applied economic research, while providing services to the economy and institutions (public and private) in Ticino.

IRE performs research and delivers its services via three Observatories, each of which responds to specific needs expressed by institutional and entrepreneurial, public and private stakeholders: the Tourism Observatory (O-Tur) – which investigates and shares knowledge in the tourism sector – the Economic Dynamics and Labour Observatory (O-De) – a research, analysis and monitoring tool for local economic competitiveness – and the Public Finance and Energy Observatory (O-FpE) - which monitors and analyesg public finances and the competitiveness of the energy market in Ticino.


Established in 1961 as an administrative unit of the Cantonal administration as the Office of Economic Research (URE) with the task of observing trends in the regional economy, in 1990 the Office became the Institute for Economic Research (IRE). In 1996, IRE relocated to Lugano, at the newly established Università della Svizzera italiana and soon after, in 1998, it was officially recognised as an Institute of the Faculty of Economics. In the sequel, the research activities were organised according to a pure university logic with the integration of PhD students and post-docs. Under Prof. Rico Maggi, director of IRE since 2000, and thanks to the four-year cantonal service contracts stipulated with the DFE – unicum at USI – since 2005 the Institute has been able to expand scientific research, further developing its applied research activities for the economy and cantonal institutions.