Institute for Economic Research

Established in 1961 as an administrative unit of the Cantonal administration (DFE) 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. 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.


  • Scientific research (teaching, FNS and other grants, publications, research network), oriented to the academic target.
  • Applied research and service activities for the economy and cantonal institutions (analysis on regional and interregional development, competitiveness, economic policy).
  • Service and consultancy activities on cantonal economic issues from the point of view of competitiveness in its many dimensions: economic, social, environmental, with particular attention to specific (re)positioning of regions and economic systems.

Scientific and applied economic research

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 (linked to the Master in International 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. Teaching by members of the institute covers microeconomics, international, regional and urban economics, and economics of tourism, leisure and mobility.

Applied economic research and service activities

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 analyzes public finances and the competitiveness of the energy market in Ticino.