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The Città della Scienza (Science City) museum in Naples hosted the Leonardo Innovation Award ceremony, held on November 28, 2018 during Innovation Day, an event that focuses entirely on new technologies in the Aerospace, Defence and Security (AD&S) sector, including advanced technologies, new trends and global challenges. The event was attended by, among others, the Minister of Education, University and Research, Marco Bussetti, as well as senior representatives from industry, Italian institutions and the world of science. The Innovation Award ceremony featured both Group employees and university students who won in the various categories, awarded by the CEO Alessandro Profumo and by the Chairman Gianni De Gennaro.

Established in 2015, this Award is aimed at university students studying the sciences and (for the first time this year) economics, in order to draw on their talent and ideas. The competition asked the candidates, who were divided into two categories (Students/Recent Graduates and PhD students), to develop an innovative project in one of a number of specific areas of research: Virtual Reality, Blockchain, Cognitive Systems, Circular Economy.
Among the winners of the 2018 edition, the CMCC PhD students Paola Vesco and Gabriele Accarino, 3rd place PhD students with the project Cognitive Systems / “An artificial intelligence tool for migration analysis and projections (ANIMA)”. The project explores the predictive potential offered by deep learning, applying mechanisms from the field to address the challenge of forecasting in the social sciences, and in particular the forecasting of international migration flows. An artificial neural network model is the basis for modelling the probable direction and timing of migration and identifying the most probable countries of origin and arrival in the medium-to-long term.

“The approach of our project is particularly innovative”, explains Paola Vesco, PhD student in Science and Management of Climate Change. “Until now, no one had ever thought to apply artificial intelligence tools to solve this kind of problems.”
“Migration flows are usually studied by applying statistical methods”, says Gabriele Accarino, PhD student in Data Science for Climate Change at the University of Salento. “The algorithms we plan to use in this project are the artificial neural networks, that is a computational model inspired by the biological neural networks; these algorithms can be “trained” on data and understand the link between inputs and outputs.”

CMCC PhD students Vesco and Accarino will use the large amount of geo-politics and socio-economics data available to train these algorithms and use therefore a new data-driven approach. “With this project we propose a change of paradigm”, Gabriele Accarino explains. “A data-driven approach, such as that of artificial neural networks, will allow to extract the best model from data themselves. A model able to link the different inputs and outputs to be used for forecasting activities.”
“Those studies”, Paola Vesco concluded, “could have several practical applications and could be useful for all the people (ongs, policy makers, local and national authorities etc) who deals with migration flows and needs tools for planning adaptation and inclusion strategies.”

Paola Vesco is attending the PhD in Science and Management of Climate Change at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Her study is focused on the links between climate change and conflicts. More in detail, her research will explore the links between climate change and natural resources such as water, crops’ production, etc while analyzing how the impact of climate change on resources can alter the probability of conflicts. The research provides for tools of artificial intelligence.

Gabriele Accarino is attending the PhD in Data Science for Climate Change at University of Salento. His research is focused on artificial intelligence techniques, in particular machine and deep learning, to be applied within the domain of climate change.

More information on the Leonardo Innovation Award 2018.

More information on Innovation Day 2018.

Explore the photogallery.

Source: Leonardo press release.