The italiainnovation Fellowship

Thoughts and actions in changing places

The italiainnovation fellowship is an interdisciplinary on-the-field research program open to undergraduate and graduate students eager to apply their learnings on real-world open-ended questions.

We bring you where change is about to happen

Since 2015 we have developed more than 50 projects and case studies in Europe and the US, establishing a connection between the research interests of international scholars and the capabilities of purpose-driven global businesses and institutions.

Thanks to the Italia Innovation Programs and Fellowship, groups of multidisciplinary scholars pioneered new techniques of social product development with food companies like Barilla, illy, Verve Coffee Roasters and Dandelion Chocolate, studied sustainability and regionalization trends within the textile industry with global and local brands like Patagonia or American Giant, leveraged cross-industry applications of new technologies to enhance the retail experience and fight the counterfeiting of fashion goods crafted by luxury brands like Zegna, Ferragamo, Gucci and Moncler, bootstrapped the local procurement and the artisanal production of a Californian Panettone led by Milan’s most famous baker.

In addition, our fellowship has a tradition in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship within the public and non-profit sector, as we collaborated in Venice for three years in a row working with La Biennale di Venezia and the Pinault Foundation to study intrapreneurship governance strategies or the adoption of AR and gamification techniques in the contemporary art sector, or as we ventured in former industrial towns of Northern Italy to study new urbanization opportunities for peripherical zones.

These projects have been made possible also thanks to a phenomenal group of thought leaders, who offered their guidance and mentorship drawing on world-class expertise in the field of design, architecture, politics, industrial economy, law and other social sciences.

We’ve applied creative strategies on-the-field with John Bruce, Director of the Transdisciplinary Design Program at the Parsons School of Design of New York, with Bill Burnett, former Director of the Stanford Design Program and with Jake Knapp, author of the Sprint book and former Design Partner at Google Ventures.

We discussed the future of marketing and retail with academic and industry pioneers like Jerry Wind, Professor of Marketing at Wharton UPenn and Ron Johnson, the inventor of the Apple stores.

We worked hand in hand with breakthrough industry innovators like Riccardo Illy, former CEO at illy coffee and current President of Polo del Gusto, or Vincent Stanley, Head of Philosophy at Patagonia.

Everything starts with Curiosity !

We are currently working on these three main research and project areas:

Even as subsequent economic crises challenged the rise of niche and curatorial shops and flagship stores, the unstoppable progress of digital disintermediation and the adoption of multichannel strategies kept moving the needle towards personal and bespoke retail strategies.

From luxury goods to commodities, the whole spectrum of artisanal and industrial productions needs to speak their truth, explaining their existential purpose with intimate and meaningful authenticity.

In this research area we study how to nurture innovative market relationships, focusing on the business last mile with a deep understanding of how and why things are made and retailed.

Climate crisis and growing inequality are calling for new ideas to fix our economic and productive systems, if not to rethink it altogether.

While circular and regenerative production models are proposing a more sustainable alternative to old consumption-driven systems, we believe there is the chance to question why some things are made or some services offered, paving the way for deeper innovations of the law of supply and demand.

This is our research area dedicated to product innovation and to the developments of supply chains, where we study how manufacturers and business operators can sustain the development of their organizations in line with social progress and environmental conservation.

The phenomena of globalization and urbanization divided our world in winners and losers, benefiting systems that were more open to be interconnected while causing popular discontent and disfranchisement in closed, peripheral communities.

The same lexicon of economic geography, with the concepts of districts, clusters, hubs and networks seems to point at interconnectedness as a success factor, while openness is somehow desired but also critical as ‘circles’ compete to maintain and grow their global competitiveness and power of influence.

As a completion of our studies on what makes the genius loci of peculiar economic regions (such as Northeastern Italy or Silicon Valley), we are pursuing a new line of inquiry to research how societies can develop as a whole, building coalitions in the age of individualism and solving systemic issues with togetherness.