UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering



The Quantitative and Applied Spatial Economic Research (QASER) laboratory provides pioneering and sustainable financial and economic solutions to spatial investment challenges.


Portfolio Structuring for Urban Investments

Multilayer Modeling for Trade in South Pacific Countries

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We take great pride in achieving excellence through close working partnerships with industry.

Our expertise and focus on the use of advanced mathematical, econometric and computational modelling, together with the multi-disciplinarity of our approach, are the driving forces in building innovative tools and tailored applications to meet the challenges of diversity and complexity in the contemporary world.




Prof. Francesca Medda

Senior Research Fellows

Research Fellows

  • Dr Dirk-Emma Baestaens, BNP Paribas Fortis
  • Gianni Carbonaro, European Investment Bank
  • Patricia Galilea
  • Eugenio Leanza, European Investment Bank
  • Dr Qianwen Liu, Drewry Shipping Consultants
  • Dr Gero Michel, Willis Re
  • Khalid Naji
  • Tim Power, Drewry Shipping Consultants
  • Michel Quidort, VEOLIA
  • Dr Thomas Schröder, European Investment Bank
  • Dr Goetz von Thadden, European Investment Bank
  • Dr Sotiris Tsolacos, Property & Portfolio Research
  • Dr Wei Yao, TBR Consultants
Affiliate organisations 
European Commission CORDIS FP7NearctisUN-HABITATVeolia
Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis UCLErnst & Young Better Government ProgrammeEuropean Investment BankWillis
Complexity - NetDrewry Shipping ConsultantsEPSRCHalcrow


Prioritizing Sustainable Energy Choice in Cities (2014-2018)

The study developed a practical approach to produce integrated action plans, enabling cities to manage and invest their infrastructure more effectively to achieve long-term impacts in energy and climate action. The work will involve a critical review of the existing tools to assist cities, and define and consolidate a new methodology to achieve overall long-term energy sustainable plans. The proposed methodology will address how such investment strategies can be structured, including how associated risks can be characterised, in order to attract funding from long-term investors.

Despite the fact that new renewable energy (RE) or energy efficiency (EE) projects could simultaneously reduce energy consumption whilst also maximising supply from renewable energy sources, securing investment for smart energy projects has been difficult. This is because they are perceived as too risky due to their long life cycles, reliance on novel technology, and economic constraints.

The key idea behind this work is to explore ways to foster increased investment in RE/EE (smart energy) projects for cities in order to encourage greater sustainability and resilience. In so doing, we investigate ways to better quantify the value of an urban energy infrastructure project and to express project risks so that they are more manageable for institutional investors.

In order to accomplish the aim of improved valuations for energy infrastructure projects, we analyse two Real Options Valuation (ROV) techniques that make use of fuzzy numbers.  Real options help to derive valuations for projects where investment decisions must be made under uncertainty, and fuzzy numbers are a way of capturing project uncertainty so that it can be more easily analysed. Both Fuzzy ROV methods will be used to perform a projected cashflow analysis on an urban energy project because while the two approaches use similar inputs, they use different techniques to calculate the value of the real option. We argue that since Fuzzy ROV methods are capable of capturing and factoring in different types of risks when making valuations, they may simplify the calculation of the real option value and profitability analysis as a whole.

The application of two Fuzzy ROV techniques to smart energy projects resulted in a comparative analysis between the models as compared to the traditional net present value estimate, shown below.

Real Options Solar Project Enhanced Valuation

To follow on from this work in improving the investment prospects of smart energy projects, we are also undertaking work in investigating the use of innovative financial instruments in order to unlock capital for use by municipalities in order to finance smart energy schemes, because affordable capital is needed to work in synergy with viable smart energy business models in order to create momentum in the clean energy sector.  Specifically, we have performed an analysis of the green municipal bond market in the United States, because there is a growing green bond market sector that is being used by cities in order to finance renewables and energy efficiency projects in American cities.  The key question is whether the green bond mechanism is viable and reliable, and whether or not a green municipal bond-type instrument can be deployed in the European context.

Green Muni Bond Benchmark

By investigating the secondary market performance of these bonds, we can assess the level of demand for green municipal bonds.  We also explore the types of projects that are being financed by these bonds, and going forward we will also investigate the accountability of the use of proceeds, particularly whether or not the money raised by the green municipal bonds is indeed used to fund clean energy infrastructure as promised.

Analysing complex energy infrastructure investment decisions using real options analysis and agent based models (2013-2017)

Over the next few decades it is anticipated that European countries will move their energy generating portfolios towards an intermittent renewable source in an attempt to meet ambitious targets (i.e. 2020 Kyoto protocol). This shift will result in an energy base load that can easily be switched on and off to an energy base load that is highly intermittent in nature due to the intermittent nature of many renewable energy source (i.e. wind and solar). To account for this a vast amount of energy infrastructure investment, from both government and private sources, will be required over the next few decades in order to create an “EU supergrid”.

Iain’s research focuses on these energy infrastructure investment decisions by analysing future cash flow of potential infrastructure investments in order to guage attractiveness of the investment to private companies and determine appropriate government subsidies for the investment. The research has two main strands:

Development of agent based models in between European countries. The agents in this model include generators, end users, governments, and privately operated high voltage interconnectors which connect European power grids. The generation portfolio between the countries is then altered to simulate future energy generation. This has an effect on both the wholesale energy price as well as the volume transfer between the two European states via the independently owned high voltage interconnector.
Real option s analysis to analyse the future cash flow potential of energy infrastructure investments based on multiple scenarios developed in from the agent based models.


Simulation of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian electricity prices using Monte Carlo modelling techniques.

Theoretical high voltage interconnector investment returns for different Italian and Spanish generating portfolios calculated using real options analysis.


Working Papers:
[1] A Real Options Approach for Analysing Complex Energy Infrastructure Investments: Connecting the Spanish Power Grid Case Study.
[2] Agent based modelling techniques to analyse the effect of changing energy generating portfolios in Western Europe on European wholesale energy prices.

Liveable Cities: Transforming the Engineering of Cities to Deliver Societal Wellbeing (2012-2017)


The vision of this project is to transform the engineering of cities to deliver a global, societal and individual wellbeing within the context of low carbon living and resource security. To achieve this vision the project’s ambition is to create a holistic, integrated and truly multidisciplinary city analysis methodology funded in wellbeing indicators based on social, environmental, economic, and governance factors. Our research work within this project focuses on the study of economic factors that encourage a stable and green economy. Our aim is to define new ways to support and foster sustainable investments in cities and regions. This general objective is achieved through the implementation of two main concepts: the portfolio approach to urban investments and the evaluation of natural capital and its integration into the economy of a region.

Alessandra’s initial research focuses on implementing the portfolio approach, developed in previous studies, in the city’s Enterprise Zones. Enterprise Zones are specific urban areas launched recently by the UK National Government to drive sustainable economic growth. By evaluating the financial return and the socio-environmental impact of Enterprise Zone projects, the portfolio approach is capable of providing decision makers and local authorities with a clearer choice of which investments composition is best-suited to their own context. Simultaneously, it allows attracting private investors, strengthen the resilience of the city and yield benefits for its citizens.

Minette’s work focuses on formalizing the mathematical model of the portfolio and optimizes its performance. To achieve this, she develops a new framework to measure socio-environmental impacts of investments and their interactions.

Raul’s research focuses on studying the value of Natural Capital as a fundamental part of the Inclusive wealth concept, along with its integration with human, social and fixed capital in regions. His current work aims to analyse alternatives for authorities to invest in the natural assets of a region, in order to maintain and recover the value of natural capital, and therefore increase wealth and achieve sustainable development goals.

Working papers:
[1] A. Coda and F. Medda (2014). Portfolio Approach to support investment in Enterprise Zones: The case of Birmingham. Working paper 1423. 54th European Regional Science Association Congress.
[2] R. Martinez Oviedo and F. Medda, (2014). Building the Green Economy with Sovereign Wealth Funds. Working paper 1404. 54th European Regional Science Association Congress

A Financial Investment Toolkit for Critical Infrastructure (2012-2017)


The main aim of this study is to develop an engineering toolkit to identify a portfolio of alternative financial tools specific to critical infrastructure projects all the way through the project life-cycle -- from feasibility assessment, design and construction-- to operation and maintenance. It is hoped that the toolkit will stimulate increased private sector participation by providing a means of mitigating the risks that seem to be a major stumbling block to private investment. The aim of the toolkit is to enlarge the pool of financial resources and funding mechanisms for infrastructure investment. The outputs of this work are:

1) To develop a toolkit for project sponsors to define a portfolio of alternative financial resources; 
2) To understand the risks specific to the infrastructure that hinder private investment.


  • Panayiotou,A. ; Medda,F. forthcoming, "Portfolio of Infrastructure Investments: An analysis of the European cases", Journal of Infrastructure Systems
  • Panayiotou, A.; Medda, F (2014), "Attracting Private Sector Participation in Transport Investment”, Procedia-Social and Behaviour Science, 111(5), pp. 424-431.
  • Panayiotou, A.; Medda, F (2014), "Attracting Private Sector Participation in Infrastructure Investment: the UK case", ​Public Money and Management Journal, 34(6), pp. 425-431.

Conference Proceedings

  • Panayiotou, A & Medda, F (2015). “Constructing a Portfolio of Infrastructure Investments a Comparative Analysis of Portfolio Re-balancing Strategies”, Regional Science Association, Winter Conference, London, United Kingdom
  • Panayiotou, A & Medda, F (2015). Portfolio Infrastructure Investments: an Analysis of the European and UK Cases. International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure Conference Proceedings: 30 September - 1 October 2014 International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA),Schloss Laxenburg, Vienna, Austria, 81-83. London, UK: UCL STEaPP
  • Medda, F., Caravelli, F., Panayotou, A., & Rapti, E. (2015). Portfolio Structuring Model for Urban Infrastructure Investments. International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure Conference Proceedings: 30 September - 1 October 2014 International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA),Schloss Laxenburg, Vienna, Austria, 63-65. London, UK: UCL STEaPP.
  • Panayiotou, A; Medda, F (2014). "Portfolio of Infrastructure Investments: An analysis of the European and UK cases" Conference Proceedings, 21st Annual Conference of the  Multinational Finance Society, Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Panayiotou, A., & Medda, F. R. (2014). Attracting Private Sector Participation in Transport Investment. TRANSPORTATION: CAN WE DO MORE WITH LESS RESOURCES? - 16TH MEETING OF THE EURO WORKING GROUP ON TRANSPORTATION - PORTO 2013, 111, 424-431. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.075
INFRARISK (2013-2016)

In Europe, extreme natural hazard events can have a devastating impact due to the complex interdependency of critical infrastructure systems. Using novel indicators for identifying critical INFRAstructure at RISK from natural hazards, the aim of the INFRARISK project is to develop a stress test framework to tackle the coupled impacts of natural hazards on interdependent infrastructure networks through:

  • Identifying rare low-frequency natural hazard events, which have the potential to have extreme impacts on critical infrastructure.
  • Developing a stress test structure for specific natural hazards on CI networks and a framework for linear infrastructure systems with wider extents and many nodal points (roads, highways and railroads), although it is anticipated the outputs can be applied across a variety of networks (e.g., telecom, energy).
  • An integrated approach to hazard assessment considering the interdependencies of infrastructure networks, the correlated nature of natural hazards, cascading hazards and cascading effects, and spatial and temporal vulnerability.
  • Facilitate implementation through the development of GIS-based and web-based stress test algorithms for complex infrastructure networks.
  • Testing the framework developed through simulation of complex, case studies.

Exploitation strategies aimed at disseminating the 'knowledge' and not just the results (e.g., training courses to industry, academic and media parties). 

INFRARISK Work Packages

In the INFRARISK project, QASER is involved in the INFRARISK WP6 work package, which incorporates stress tests for multi-risk scenarios. The objective of our research is to estimate the indirect economic impacts of natural hazards, specifically how infrastructure disruption due to natural hazards impacts on the regional economy, and for appraising the possible investment to increase the resilience of the system.The general research framework for this purpose is as follows:


The Transport infrastructure hazard response simulator is an Agent-Based Model which simulates transport infrastructures responses to an extreme natural hazard so that the road damages due to the natural hazard can be visualized.

INFRARISK Simulation Result

The Traffic simulator simulates the traffic flow under the natural hazard scenario based on the output of Transport infrastructure hazard response simulator. The simulator simulates the car speed limits, traffic link densities as well as time delay between cities.


The Indirect economic impact assessment module evaluates indirect economic impact of natural hazards. A correlation between traffic demand and regional economy has been set up.

INFRARISK GDP and travel demand

It is expected that the overall cascading effect of natural hazards on the infrastructure system can be quantitatively evaluated for the purpose of infrastructure project investment.

The research result is expected to be applied to local government or infrastructure investors when evaluating investment risks of infrastructure projects.

Working papers:
[1] Miao Wang, Francesca Medda, Dina D’Ayala and Pierre Gehl (2015) Indirect economic impacts of natural hazards: an application of agent-based modelling. Regional Studies Association Winter Conference 2015, London.


A multi-attribute comparative evaluation of value capture financing mechanisms: A case studyPlace-Based Evaluation for Integrated Land-Use Management (pp. 75-95).Roukouni, A., Medda, F., Giannopoulou, M.& Vavatsikos, A.2015
A new measure of resilience: An application to the London UndergroundTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 81, 35-46. doi:10.1016/j.tra.2015.05.017D'Lima, M. & Medda, F.2015
An Interdependent Multi-Layer Model: Resilience of International NetworksNetworks and Spatial Economics, 15 (2), 313-335. doi:10.1007/s11067-014-9274-2Caschili, S., Medda, F. & Wilson, A.2015

Private Finance in Port Investment: The South Pacific Islands. In P. T. -. W. Lee, K. Cullinane (Eds.), Dynamic Shipping and Port Development in the Globalized Economy. Palgrave Macmillan.
Caschili, S.,Reggiani, A., & Medda, F.  2015

Resilience and Vulnerability of Spatial Economic Networks. Networks and Spatial Economics, 15 (2), 205-210. doi:10.1007/s11067-015-9283-9
Caschili, S.,Reggiani, 
     A., & Medda, F.

Special issue: Resilience and vulnerability of transport networks. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice. doi:10.1016/j.tra.2015.07.010   
Caschili, S., Romana Medda, F., & Reggiani, A.  2015 
Energy Investment in Smart Cities: Unlocking Financial Instruments in Europe, in Handbook of Research on Social, Economic, and Environmental Sustainability in the Development of Smart Cities, IGI Global, 2015, pp. 434-458.Medda, F., Partridge, C. & Carbonaro, G.2015
Guest editorial: Resilience of NetworksTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 81, 1-3. doi:10.1016/j.tra.2015.07.010Caschili, S., Medda, F. & Reggiani, A.2015
Hub Status and Indexation of Container Ports. Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics, 31 (2), 253-272. doi:10.1016/j.ajsl.2015.06.005Park, Y. A., & Medda, F. 2015
Portfolio Infrastructure Investments: an Analysis of the European and UK Cases. International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure Conference Proceedings: 30 September - 1 October 2014 International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA),Schloss Laxenburg, Vienna, Austria, 81-83. London, UK: UCL STEaPP.Medda, F., & Panayiotou, A. 2015
Portfolio Structuring Model for Urban Infrastructure Investments. International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure Conference Proceedings: 30 September - 1 October 2014 International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA),Schloss Laxenburg, Vienna, Austria, 63-65. London, UK: UCL STEaPP.Medda, F., Caravelli, F., Panayotou, A., & Rapti, E. 2015

An Analysis of Shipping Agreements: The Cooperative Container Network. Networks and Spatial Economics, 2014 on-line. doi:10.1007/s11067-014-9230-1
 Caschili, S., Medda,     F., Parola, F., &     Ferrari, C.2014

Attracting private sector participation in infrastructure investment: the UK case. PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT, 34 (6), 425-431. doi:10.1080/09540962.2014.962369


Panayiotou, A., & Medda, F.2014 
Attracting Private Sector Participation in Transport Investment. TRANSPORTATION: CAN WE DO MORE WITH LESS RESOURCES? - 16TH MEETING OF THE EURO WORKING GROUP ON TRANSPORTATION - PORTO 2013, 111, 424-431. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.075Panayiotou, A., & Medda, F.  2014
Greening the recovery: the report of the UCL Green Economy Commission. University College London: OVPR/UCL Public Policy.Ekins, P., Baddeley, M., Medda, F., Nesheim, L., & Radosevic, S. 2014
Measuring the scope of inter-firm agreements in the container shipping industry: An empirical assessment. International Journal of Shipping and Transport Logistics, 6 (5), 466-487. doi:10.1504/IJSTL.2014.064571Parola, F., Caschili, S., Medda, F. R., & Ferrari, C. 2014
Short sea shipping as intermodal competitor: a theoretical analysis of European transport policies. Maritime Policy & Management: The flagship journal of international shipping and port research, 08 Apr 2014 on-line. doi:10.1080/03088839.2014.904947Suárez-Alemán,, A., Truijllo, L., & Medda, F.  2014