Marwala, Bernini, Molari, Bonaccini

A new UNU institute in Bologna will engage with global South researchers and policymakers to mobilize the potential of big data and AI for the SDGs


The United Nations University (UNU) is pleased to announce today that it will establish a research and training institute in Bologna, Italy. The new institute, made possible through the generous support and cooperation of the Italian government and the Emilia-Romagna Region, will catalyse global collaboration and innovation in the utilization of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to manage human habitat change.

Following a successful 2022 feasibility study by a team of international experts that confirmed the potential for creating a UNU institute focused on harnessing the power of big data and AI, the Italian government has pledged a significant contribution of USD 40 million to the UNU Endowment Fund to ensure the institute’s long-term sustainability. Moreover, the Italian government and the Emilia-Romagna Region will share the allocation of EUR 2.5 million per year to cover operational expenditures of the institute for an initial period of 10 years.

This UNU institute will be housed in a new building now being constructed within Bologna’s Technopole, a rapidly expanding research hub known for its state-of-the-art facilities and innovation ecosystem. Pending the necessary approvals by Italian authorities and staff recruitment, the institute could begin operations as early as the 2nd half of 2024.

The launch of the new UNU institute in Bologna will mark a significant milestone in leveraging the potential of big data and AI to address issues of human habitat change. Among the areas in which the new institute could contribute to policy-relevant research and training delivery are climate change, disaster reduction, and crisis and conflict management.

Read more