Umberto Bertelè

Professore emerito del Politecnico di Milano


  • Year of nomination: 2016
  • Facility: Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering
  • E-mail: 

"Umberto Bertelè, born in 1944, originally from Verona but later settling in Milan, graduated with distinction from the Politecnico di Milano in Electronic Engineering (Automatic Controls track) in December 1967, and in January 1968 joined the Theory of Systems research group directed by Emanuele Biondi at the Istituto di Elettrotecnica ed Elettronica. In 1970-71 he had his first teaching position, in Automatic Controls at the Università di Pavia, and in 1971-72 at the Politecnico di Milano, in Economics and Business Management (a course he then taught for several decades), and shortly afterwards he became Research Assistant in Electrical Engineering. In December 1980, he was selected as Full Professor and in 1981, he was invited by the Politecnico to take the professorship in Operations Research (which subsequently became Economics and Business Management). In 1982, he was one of the founders of the Study Programme in Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering (at the time known as Engineering of Industrial Technologies with an Organisational-Economic track), which he subsequently headed in the periods 1988-1991 and 2001-2006. In 1986, he became Vice-President of MIP, the business school of Politecnico di Milano, which he had helped to recover from a period of crisis, and he held this position until assuming the presidency in 2004. Between 1990 and 1994, he was Vice Rector for Corporate Relations of the Politecnico di Milano, and between 1991 and 1993, he was President of AiIG-Associazione italiana di Ingegneria Gestionale, of which he had been a member of the organising committee. In those years he was also a lecturer at the Università Cattolica and Università Bocconi in Milan. In 2004, he became president of MIP, and has been honorary president since 2011. In the same period, he was also President of Politecnico’s School of Management and in this capacity, he contributed to the growth of the Observatories, mainly in the areas of Digital Innovation and Renewable Energies. In the 1990s, he launched the Strategy and Planning Systems course at Politecnico di Milano (the first such course in Italy to be run at a Department of Engineering), which he is still teaching today.

Over such a long university career, lasting 46 years, Umberto Bertelè has repeatedly changed his areas of interest. His published work can be divided into several phases:

  • the first phase was in the field of operations research, in collaboration with Francesco Brioschi, which culminated in 1972 with the publication by the US Academic Press (later Elsevier) of the book Non-Serial Dynamic Programming, which the authors were encouraged to write by Richard Bellman, the father of dynamic programming
  • the second phase, from the mid-1970s until later than the mid-1980s, was in the field of sector economics (focusing particularly on the agri-food system) and import-export issues, which led to the publication of three books with Il Mulino, and one with Hoepli
  • the third, starting with the establishment of his research group in the late 1980s, regarded a series of topics more closely pertinent to business (new accounting and investment evaluation methods, strategic impact of environmental problems), with several articles published in the main international journals dedicated to these topics
  • the fourth, starting from late 1990s, was in the field of business strategy and its forms in sectors with a high rate of innovation such as ICT, which led to the publication of several books with Rizzoli Etas, Il Sole 24 Ore and Aegea

It is a source of great pride for Umberto Bertelè to have created, from the late 1980s, a research group which was subsequently distinguished by significant successes.

The original group, formed until 1995, included five current Full Professors of Politecnico di Milano:

  • Giovanni Azzone, Cristina Masella, Vittorio Chiesa, Giuliano Noci and Andrea Rangone

and two current Associate Professors:

  • Paolo Maccarrone and Giovanni Toletti; over time they have been joined by the students members of the original group, who are in turn now acquiring positions as full or associate professors.

Since the 1970s, Umberto Bertelè 

  • has been a member of technical-scientific boards and support groups at various Ministries (Industry, Agriculture etc.);
  • has been part of official Italian delegations to GATT, OECD and G-7 as an economic expert;
  • was a member (invited by the then Minister, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, upon the recommendation of the Rector of Politecnico di Milano) for four years, from its creation until 2001, of the Board for Internal Control at the Ministry of the Treasury, Budget and Economic Planning, and was appointed Commendatore of the Republic in this area;
  • was a consultant to the Research Department of the Bank of Italy.

For nine years, between 1998 and 2007, he was president of TAV (Treno Alta Velocità), the FS group company responsible for building the new high-speed railway lines.

He has been a member of the board of directors of companies in the industrial, transport, financial and ICT sectors, including (for long periods) Borsa Italiana, ATM-Azienda Trasporti Milanesi, Winterthur Assicurazioni (at the time known as Crédit Suisse Group) and BravoSolution (Italcementi group).

He was a columnist for Il Sole 24 Ore for several years. He has worked and continues to work with various economic journals in print format (HBR Italia etc.) and online. He participates as a commentator in TV (Tg1 Economia, SkyTG24, RaiNews24 etc.) and radio (Radio 24, etc.) broadcasts.

At the end of 2014 he was proposed by the Rector of the Politecnico di Milano as Prefectural Commissioner for the renovation of the Darsena within the Milan Expo, and after two other assignments also carried out at the request of the Prefect of Milan, he was awarded the honour of Grand Officer of the Republic. "

[career highlights kindly provided by professor Bertelè from the CV presented in June 2014]