About us

Logo a coloriWhat is CERCIS

The CEntre for Research on Circular economy, Innovation and SMEs (CERCIS) is part of the Department of Economics and Management at University of Ferrara and, in particular, of the departmental development program funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) on a competitive basis for the period 2018–2022 to promote excellence in education and research (“Dipartimenti di Eccellenza”). The Department of Economics and Management is one of the 18 Departments funded in the Scientific Domain of Economics and Statistics at a national level.


Our goals

CERCIS activities are focused on investigating firm eco-innovative behaviors to combine competitiveness with sustainability and to face the challenges set by the European Union Action Plan for the Circular Economy in 2015. The Plan is aimed to unlock new economic growth and job opportunities entailed by emerging sustainable patterns of production and consumption, that is, increasing the value created and appropriated while reducing the amount of factors and resources used. A great deal of effort in innovation and structural change is needed to meet this goal. In turn, the generation and absorption of technical innovations at a regional and sectoral level require the capability to growingly mingle separate pieces of knowledge, to design appropriate business strategies and models, consequent organizational adaptation and extensive investment in human capital, to fully appreciate intellectual capital and intangible assets, as well as appropriately designed policy mixes to set reliable requirements of firm performance and to spur tuned innovative behaviors. No doubt, this is much more demanding in the case of SMEs.


What we do

The CERCIS is aimed to overlap various seeds of excellence at the Department of Economics and Management, to improve research education at a doctoral and master level, to develop synergies with companies and public institutions, to create networks, and to compete for additional funding opportunities, which can help conduct and expand an articulated set of activities focused on circularity, innovation, and SMEs. These activities currently include: yearly workshops open to scholars, policymakers and practitioners; research and policy seminars scheduled within the master and doctoral program; a working paper series with international vocation. Our ambition is to push on monitoring and investigating innovative change, the renovation of business models, the investment in knowledge and infrastructures needed to link circularity with other major trends, such as Industry 4.0, especially in those fields mostly targeted by European, national and regional policy initiatives. The roadmap is as follows.

  1. Information on innovative activities related to circular economy are singled out from the World Patent Statistical Database EPO-PATSTAT to map knowledge production and flows within and between technological domains and to sketch their main evolutionary patterns over time.

  2. A sample of Italian SMEs are surveyed on a number of topics related to circular economy and Industry 4.0 to complement the existing knowledge base with pieces of information that are not available from official sources. The focal interest is in the changes in the productive process due to circularity and digitization, how these changes can affect products and designs, the main barriers to change, the strategies to cope with the broadening mix of knowledge required and to make use of disruptive tools, such as Big Data and the IoT.

  3. The knowledge base is completed getting access to a collection of financials (BvD Orbis Intellectual Property) to retrieve systematized information on firms’ strategies and performances, as well as to match patents to companies.

  4. The survey is repeated a second wave and the information from official sources updated after two years to produce a pseudo-panel.

  5. A wide set of methods and techniques are applied to generate summary indexes of innovativity and sustainability, to reduce the complexity returned by the survey, to test multiple hypotheses, to estimate parametric and non-parametric models of policy evaluation.

The achievements along the road are reported in the section “News and Events” together with notice of seminars, workshops and publications.


Contact us

CERCIS is hosted by the Department of Economics and Management, University of Ferrara.

Please contact us at cercis@unife.it. Or visit us in Via Voltapaletto 11, 44121 Ferrara Italy.