For more than two decades we have been engaged in socio-economic research in agriculture, food and rural development at European, national and regional levels. Over the last 20 years, we have been particularly active in various research and innovation programmes funded by the EU Commission, such as FP4, FP5, FP6, FP7, Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020. We also conduct research projects dedicated to specific regional and national issues funded by corresponding government bodies or private actors.

We have more and more been involved in multi-actor and transdisciplinary research. Well before that we were, and still have been, part of numerous national and international research programmes and associations, knowledge networks and bottom-up initiatives, and collaboration with local and regional governments. This all allows a knowledge exchange between science, policy and practice. More importantly, we believe that such research collaboration helps to ensure getting right messages across, which is to eventually foster research and policies that are really needed.

Our current key research directions include the following:

  • Food security and food systems: analysis of socio-ecological systems’ functioning in ensuring food security and understanding vulnerabilities and resilience
  • Analysis of ‘value chains’ in agri-food systems: understanding of the bargaining power between the actors along supply chains, market failures, information asymmetries and impacts on the sustainability of different supply chains
  • Dynamics and structural change in rural areas: analysis of socio-demographic factors of change, evolution in the objectives of various stakeholders, changes in the use of productive factors, connections between rural, peri-urban and urban areas
  • Innovation processes of technological, organisational and social nature: analysis of their origin, mechanisms and change generated; socio-economic impact of research and innovation
  • Technological, institutional and organisational innovation processes necessary for transition towards sustainable and resilient bio-based and circular economy
  • Analysis of the design and formulation of agricultural, fisheries, food and rural development policies, estimation of policy impacts on the strategies of the actors, and on sustainability and provision of public goods in agri-food systems
  • Multifunctionality of agriculture and plurality of farm business models

Past and ongoing projects (from the most recent)

EU-funded projects:

GRASS-Ceiling – Gender Equality in Rural and Agricultural Innovation SystemS (2023-2026)

Agritech – PNRR (MUR) – Centro Nazionale per le Tecnologie dell’Agricoltura – Spoke 9 New technologies and methodologies for traceability, quality, safety, measurements and certifications to enanche the value and protect the typical traits in agri-food chains (2022-2025)

SmARTIES – Puzzling Out Smart Ruralities, Sound Knowledge And Rural (Agricultural/Agrifood) Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. Programme Funding PRIN 2020 (2022-2024)

HealthyFoodAfrica – Sustainable, equitable and resilient food systems in 10 African cities. Programme Funding Horizon 2020 (2020-2024)

InnOBreed – Innovative Organic Fruit Breeding and uses. Programme Funding: Horizon Europe (2022-2026)

GRANULAR – Giving Rural Actors Novel data and re-Useable tools to Lead public Action in Rural areas. Programme Funding: Horizon Europe (2022-2026)

NEMOS – A new educational model for acquisition of sustainability competences through service-learning. Programme Funding: co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union

FOODCLIC: integrated urban FOOD policies – developing sustainability Co-benefits, spatial Linkages, social Inclusion and sectoral Connections to transform food systems in city-regions. Programme Funding: Horizon Europe (2022-2027)

CODECS: Maximizing the CO-benefits of agricultural Digitalization through conducive digital ECoSystems. Programme Funding: Horizon Europe (2022-2026)

DIVINFOOD – Co-constructing interactive short and mid-tier food chains to value agrobiodiversity in healthy plant-based food. Programme Funding: Horizon Europe (2022-2027)

PATHWAYS – Pathways for transitions to sustainability in livestock husbandry and food systems. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2021-2026)

ATTER – Agroecological Transitions for Territorial Food Systems. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2021-2025)

FARMWELL – Improving farmers’ wellbeing through social innovation. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2021-2023)

Start for Future – Open Incubation Programme and Academy

MOVING – Mountain Valorization Through Interconnectedness and Green Growth. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2020-2024)

HealthyFoodAfrica – Improving Nutrition in Africa by Strengthening the Diversity, Sustainability, Resilience and Connectivity of Food Systems. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2020-2024)

SHERPA – Sustainable Hub to Engage in Rural Policies with Actors. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2019-2023)

DESIRA – Digitisation: Economic and Social Impacts in Rural Areas. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2019-2023, coordination team)

Contracts2.0 – Increased provision of environmental public goods in agriculture through improved contract models. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2019-2023)

CONSOLE – CONtract SOLutions for Effective and lasting delivery of agri-environmental-climate public goods by EU agriculture and forestry. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2019-2022, coordinator: University of Bologna, Italy)

FIGGEN – Valorising the diversity of the fig tree, an ancient fruit crop for sustainable Mediterranean agriculture

LIAISON – Better Rural Innovation: Linking Actors, Instruments and Policies through Networks. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2018-2021)

ROBUST – Rural-Urban Outlooks: Unlocking Synergies.  Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2017-2021)

BUzNet – B-learning Uzbekistan Veterinary Network. Programme Funding: Erasmus+ K2 Capacity Building in Higher Education (2017-2020)

SALSA –  Small farms, small food businesses and sustainable food security. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2016-2020)

DIVERSIFOOD – Embedding crop diversity and networking for local high-quality food systems​. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020 (2015-2019)​

SUFISA – Sustainable finance for sustainable agriculture and fisheries. Programme Funding: Horizon 2020. Sub Programme Area: SFS-19-2014​ (2015-2019)

AGRISPIN –  Space for Agricultural Innovation. Programme Funding: H2020 (2015-2017)

Life from Soil – Sharing of knowledge and good practices in the field of social and sustainable agriculture. Programme Funding: Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships for adult education (2015-2017)

IMPRESA – Measurement of research impact in European agriculture. Programme Funding: European Commission, FP7 (2013-2015)

TRANSMANGO – Assessment of the impact of global drivers of change on Europe’s food security. Programme Funding: European Commission, FP7 (2014-2016)

GLAMUR – Global and Local food chain assessment: A multidimensional performance-based approach. Programme Funding: European Commission, FP7 (2013-2015, coordination team)

FOODLINKS – Knowledge brokerage to promote sustainable food consumption and production: linking scientists, policymakers and civil society organisations. Programme Funding: European Commission, FP7 (2011-2013)

PUREFOOD – Urban, peri-urban and regional food dynamics: toward an integrated and territorial approach to food. Programme Funding: Marie Curie Initial Training Network, FP7 (2010-2014)

SOLINSA – Support of Learning and Innovation Networks for Sustainable Agriculture. Programme Funding: European commission, FP7 (2011-2013)

IN-SIGHT – Strengthening Innovation Processes for Growth and Development. Programme Funding: European commission, FP6 (2006-2008)

SoFar – Social Services in Multifunctional Farms. Programme Funding: European commission, FP6 (2006-2008)

SUS-CHAIN – Improving Collective Performance of Food Supply Chains towards Sustainability. Programme Funding: European commission, FP5 (2003-2006)

MULTAGRI – Capitalisation of Research Results on the Multifunctionality of Agriculture and Rural Areas. Programme Funding: European Commission, FP5 (2002-2004)

TRUC – Transforming Rural Communication. Programme Funding: European commission, FP5 (2001-2003, coordination team)

IMPACT – The socio-economic Impact of Rural Development Policies; Realities and Potentials, FP4 (1999-2002)


National and regional projects:

FOOD POVERTY AND LOCAL FOOD POLICY – Innovation Paths through Territorial Food Actors. Project Funding: Fondazione CARIPLO, Milan

COBRAF – Co-products from Biorefinery. Project Funding: Region of Tuscany (2016 – present)

The Growth of a Social Farming Network. Project Funding: CESVOT (Centro Servizi Volontariato Toscana), Tuscany Region

Social Farming in Pisa Area: Orti Etici and Network Development. Project Funding: Società della Salute (SdS), Pisa Area, Pisa

Innovative Production-Consumption Models: Research Paths Activated by Citizens-Consumers. Programme Funding: Miur-Prin

What we do


This section lists the courses that our team members are currently teaching at the University of Pisa

Read more


This section illustrates a range of activities we are doing with policy & practice partners and citizens

Read more