Polisocial Award 2018

Smart Cities and Communities in Africa: four winning projects in the fifth edition of the Polisocial Award


The prizegiving ceremony for the Polisocial Award 2018 was held in the Auditorium. It was the fifth edition of the competition that recognises research projects with high social impact developed at our university.

Polisocial is the Politecnico di Milano’s programme of engagement and social responsibility which has been running since 2012, one of the first social responsibility programmes in the academic arena in Italy. We decided to adhere to our Third Mission, financing and incentivising research that can track social demand in today’s world. The result is a total of €2,500,000 of financing from 5x1000 income tax donated to our university and other financing provided by external partners to co-finance the initiative.

Cooperation and Development are the themes of this fifth edition and the geographical study area is Africa. It is a continent that is growing rapidly, which puts institutions – particularly cultural and research institutions like the university – in front of important choices. Prosperity, respect for the planet and social inclusion are some of the key drivers for development in this area.

Judging the projects is a Scientific Committee made up of professors from the Politecnico di Milano, assisted by a prestigious Advisory Board of external experts. There are four winning projects, which will be launched at the beginning of March and will run for 15 months. The theme is Smart Cities and Communities: proposed multidisciplinary research paths aimed at identifying local development plans in Eritrea, Mozambique and Somalia.

A remarkable number of professors and researchers took part in the call. In contrast to previous editions, this year’s prize fund is bigger – 500,000 – and is shared among a smaller number of projects which are wider-reaching and focused on the long term. They also wanted to promote interdisciplinarity in the entries: in all there were 9 departments and 35 professors involved.

This financing is only a starting point. Polisocial wants to follow and support the projects, so to this end an additional prize was introduced this year: €30,000 following the intermediate report, to support the launch of the projects’ scalability phase.

The winning projects are:

§  BECOMe | Business ECOsystem design for sustainable settlements in Mogadishu: affordable housing, local entrepreneurship and social facilities Director: Prof. Oscar Bellini (Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering)

§  BOA_MA_NHA! | Study for the integrated development of the regions BOAne, MoAmba, NamahacHA Director: Prof. Laura Montedoro (Department of Architecture and Urban Studies)

§  SAFARI NJEMA | From informal mobility to mobility policies through big data analysis Director: Prof. Simone Vantini (Department of Mathematics)

§  EMotion | Eritrea Mobility and Cultural Heritage: New Frontiers of the Horn of Africa –  Director: Prof. Federico Cheli (Department of Mechanical Engineering)

Advisory Board members: Cheikh Bedda – African Union Commission; Antonella Baldino - Cassa Depositi e Prestiti; Stefano Bologna - UNIDO; Elena Casolari - OPES-LCEF; Cleophas Adrien Dioma - “Migration and development” Group, CNCS; Stefania Mancini - Assifero; Giuseppe Mistretta - MAECI, DGMO; Roberto Ridolfi - FAO; Piotr Tulej - DG RTD, EU.

On the Scientific Committee, Professors: Niccolò Aste, Paolo Biscari, Massimo Bricocoli, Francesca Cognetti, Emanuela Colombo, Emilio Faroldi, Giorgio Guariso, Cristina Masella and Gabriele Pasqui.