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Awarded the 1st italian edition of the 'Abertis Chair' award for research on transport infrastructure management and road safety
28 June 2022

Promoting research and innovation in the field of transport infrastructure management and road safety: these are the objectives of the 'Abertis Chair' award set up by the Abertis Group, the Abertis Foundation and A4 Holding also in Italy, through collaboration with the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (ICEA) of the University of Padua.

The 'Abertis Chair - Year 2021' award, in its first edition in Italy, was awarded  today during an event organised by A4 Holding and the ICEA Department at the University of Padua. The initiative is part of an international project of the Abertis Group, one of the leading international groups in the management of toll roads, mobility infrastructures present in 16 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas. In fact, the Abertis Group has been successfully promoting this initiative since 2003 in Spain, creating the 'Abertis Chair' award for the management of transport infrastructure. The experience was then also borrowed in the main countries where the Group is present, always in collaboration with local universities, and since 2016 it has also extended to road safety studies.

The call of the first Italian edition launched in 2021 was intended for Italian university students with a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree who have carried out the best research work on the topics of transport infrastructure management and road safety by 2021.

The examining commission, composed of lecturers from the University of Padua and representatives of A4 Holding, awarded the prize for research in the field of transport infrastructure management to Luca Bertolini from the University of Roma Tre for his thesis "Application of BIM methodology in the monitoring of a linear transport infrastructure through non-destructive surveys. A case study of modelling on the A3 motorway" with the following motivation: "The thesis work carried out by the candidate Luca Bertolini stands out for the clarity of its exposition and the quality of its contents; the results and the conclusions proposed are excellently motivated and provide an interesting contribution to the state of the art in the field of transport infrastructure management and maintenance. The study is also fully consistent with the mission and vision of Abertis."

The winner of the Italian prize will compete with the other winners of the individual national awards from the network countries (Spain, France, Puerto Rico, Chile, Brazil and Mexico) for the international honorary 'Abertis Chair' prize (full information at

In addition, the examining board chose to award a merit mention to the PhD thesis of Luigi Pio Prencipe of the Politecnico di Bari on 'Optimization models for the management of a one-way-station-based electric car sharing system integrated with vehicle-to-grid technology', evaluating the quality of the paper and the recognized relevance of the topic addressed, also in view of Abertis's sensitivity towards environmental sustainability.


A prize to support university research

The 'Abertis Chair' award, already active in 7 of the 16 countries where the Abertis Group is present, is an international operating model desired by the Abertis Group and the Abertis Foundation, a non-profit organisation whose main objectives are the development and promotion of study and research activities on the environment and the management of transport infrastructures and road safety.

The individual national awards, set up in synergy with 7 other universities in the countries in which the Abertis Group is present, aim to increase cooperation between universities and companies, promoting specific training in the management and innovation of transport infrastructures, thus enabling Abertis to broaden its knowledge and to design more efficient management models both from a practical point of view and in terms of the impact that these activities have on the territory from an economic, social, environmental, cultural and quality of life perspective.

Since 2021, the Abertis Group, Abertis Foundation, together with A4 Holding, the Abertis Group company that holds the concession in Italy for 235 km of motorway network in the North East, have also established the award in Italy in synergy with the University of Padua. The University of Padua has thus also become part of the network of international professors networked by the prize, with a collaboration for the three-year period 2021 - 2023 that envisages a total transfer of €90,000 from the prize organisers to the University of Padua (ICEA Department) as an operating partner of the project coordinated by Prof. Riccardo Rossi, Professor of Transport Engineering.


The event and the award ceremony

The award ceremony for the winners was held today, Tuesday 28 June, at the Antique Archives of the University of Padua as part of an event organized by A4 Holding and the ICEA Department; the event was also an opportunity for a dialogue between representatives of the academic, institutional and business worlds on the topics of sustainable mobility and road safety.

After the greetings of Gonzalo Alcalde Rodríguez, President of A4 Holding, and of Andrea Giordano and Carlo Pellegrino, respectively Director of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (ICEA) and Prorector of Construction at the University of Padua, the prize-giving ceremony was preceded by the workshop "Sustainable mobility and road safety: Synergies between Universities, Companies and Institutions', which brought together Professor Riccardo Rossi, Professor of Transport Engineering at the University of Padua, Pier Mauro Masoli, Director of the Valdastico Function and New Projects, Mario Pozza, President of Unioncamere of Veneto, and Luciana Iorio, of the Ministry of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility (MIMS) and President of the Global Forum for Road Safety of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

"The prize we are awarding today is an international experience that, together with the Abertis Group and the Abertis Foundation, we strongly wished to bring to Italy as well - is the comment of the President of A4 Holding, Gonzalo Alcalde Rodríguez - It is a recognition that aims to promote research on transport infrastructure management and road safety, while creating a network between universities and companies by supporting research, innovation, technology transfer, dissemination and scientific creation in the field of mobility, transport and infrastructure management. The quality of the works that the examining committee assessed demonstrate how the study and development of new knowledge, through the ingenuity and skills of university students, are the lifeblood for the continuous improvement of motorway infrastructure management and for the identification of innovative solutions for the benefit of the community. For the Abertis Group and for A4 Holding, road safety and sustainable mobility are priorities in the development strategy, which is why we are delighted to celebrate the first awarding of the Abertis Chair Prize in Italy, precisely in correspondence with the 70th year of activity of our company. This award, which sees us honoured to collaborate alongside the University of Padua, bears witness to our renewed commitment to the infrastructural development of the territory with an eye to the technological challenges of the new frontiers of motorway mobility and to the promotion of a growth that must increasingly respond to the indispensable criteria of sustainability and social responsibility".

"The Abertis Chair Award represents an important opportunity to enhance the study and research activities that are developed in Italian universities on the themes of transport infrastructure management and road safety. The orientation of the award towards young people, whether students or researchers, by virtue of the particular sensitivity of Abertis towards those who in the near future will be primary players in the planning, design, management and operation of transport systems, constitutes a distinctive and recognised element of the award. The Chair's sensitivity to the issues of economic, social and environmental sustainability in a complex and often critical environment such as transport, makes the initiative even more noteworthy. The Transport Laboratory of the ICEA Department for which I am responsible has enthusiastically embraced the initiative from the outset, and this first edition of the Award is hoped  to mark the start of a path of cooperation between universities, organisations and companies to be developed in the coming years in an increasingly fruitful way,' - observes Professor Riccardo Rossi, Professor of Transport Engineering at the University of Padua -"

Elisa De Berti, Vice-President of the Veneto Region, commented on the sidelines of the award ceremony: 'Road safety is certainly a fundamental element of the infrastructure and transport policy of the Veneto Region. There are many initiatives that the regional government has supported in recent years and we are going to promote just as many. From the infrastructural point of view, we have made every effort to allocate a large part of the regional resources to co-finance interventions aimed at reducing accidents and ensuring the sustainability of our infrastructures. The Recovery and Resilience Plan is certainly an unmissable and unrepeatable opportunity to give a better perspective to the future of our country and our young people, developing sustainable mobility projects at 360 degrees, i.e. that take into account the effectiveness of the investment, respect for the ecosystem, climate and environmental risk, durability and improvement of the quality of life and therefore of our safety. In terms of safety, there is certainly still a lot to be done, especially with regard to young people, starting with the smallest, and in this direction we are coordinating the work of a round table to which the motorway companies of the Veneto region, including Autostrada Brescia Verona Vicenza Padova, as well as the regional school office, have enthusiastically joined in order to make young people increasingly aware of safety issues.