Pirelli and Politecnico Milan renew research partnership

Agreement worth over 1.5 million euros, focuses on sustainable technologies and safer mobility

Pirelli and the University of Milan have renewed a new three-year research deal signed by Marco Tronchetti Provera – Pirelli’s executive vice chairman and CEO – and Ferruccio Resta, rector of the Politecnico University. The original Joint Labs agreement dates back to 2011 with the aim of developing innovative tyre technology for the future.

Some of the challenges that Pirelli and the University of Milan will tackle together over the next three years include the use of nano charges to produce tyres with low environmental impact and mathematical modelling studies to support the Cyber Tire program, as well as development of innovative materials that can protect tires from aging. These projects represent key pillars of the joint mission between these two Italian institutions.

Marco Tronchetti Provera and Ferruccio Resta were at the signing of the agreement in the University’s Great Hall, alongside Gianantonio Magnani – the president of the University of Milan Foundation – and Maurizio Boiocchi, Pirelli’s executive vice president and strategic advisor for technology.

The collaboration between the University of Milan and Pirelli has a long history. In 1870, Giovanni Battista Pirelli graduated from the University and was advised by one of his lecturers, Giuseppe Colombo, to pursue chemical engineering and specifically rubber manufacturing. Giovanni Battista Pirelli then became the first man to introduce this industry to Italy, founding Pirelli & C.in 1872.

The University and Pirelli have collaborated many times over the years in an effort to merge the academic and business worlds. Their joint ventures have included projects such as CORECOM (Consorzio Ricerche Elaborazione Commutazione Ottica Milano), founded in 1995 as one of the first public and private consortia in Italy leading international photonics.

Reasearch into modern materials and technology

According to the two parties, the partnership has already yielded important results when it comes to tyre performance, as well as safety and sustainability, thanks to the use of advanced materials. In particular, 15 research projects have been assigned to young graduates in the field of materials chemistry, and two doctorates have been completed as a result of the association with Pirelli.

Research over the last three years has concentrated mainly on production and functionality of carbon charges (from graphene to carbon black nanotubes), preparation of modified silicon fibre, and studies on alternative sources of natural rubber, as well as the creation of innovative polymers and self-repairing materials.

There has been notable work in the mechanical sector as well. Since 2011, 12 research contracts have been activated for Cyber Tire and Formula 1, which focus on the interaction between tyres and the road surface.

Ferruccio Resta, Rector of the Politecnico University of Milan said: “The collaboration between Pirelli and our University is solid, confirming that the worlds of research and innovation, academia and business, march forward at the same pace and can together welcome the challenges ahead of us. Among these, a key element is mobility: which calls us to redesign not only our technical horizons but also entire urban contexts. For this reason, the Joint Lab program with Pirelli takes on an even more significant value for our University and for Milan. It’s an agreement that leads us in the same direction as a city that holds all the cards to be a true hub when it comes to technical development of modern mobility. And that is an opportunity for which we cannot afford to be unprepared.”

Marco Tronchetti Provera, executive vice chairman and CEO Pirelli: “More than ever these days, innovating and carrying out research is not an option but a must. Those who do not step up soon disappear from the scene, and those who do not invest are not competitive. Those who instead invest first enjoy greater advantages in the marketplace. The challenges that our sector, the automotive industry, are going through are getting increasingly bigger. We are experiencing a period of unprecedented transformation where automation and connectivity are king. In such a dynamic context, it’s essential to work very closely with research bodies and the most advanced universities in the world; the University of Milan is certainly one of those. With the renewal of the Joint Labs program, Pirelli underlines its commitment to collaborate with one of the most renowned academic institutions in the country, with the firm intention of confirming our Group’s strategic know-how in Italy.”

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