P.E.A.S: the app for measuring the environmental impact of fashion

An intelligent system that integrates social and environmental traceability of garments with gamification: P.E.A.S – Product Environmental Accountability System is an innovative project created thanks to the support of Regione Lombardia, theSchool of Management of Politecnico di Milano, the companies MOOD, 1TrueID and WWG, in collaboration with WRÅD

 

A new frontier in the field of communication for sustainability in the fashion and clothing sector, P.E.A.S. technology not only makes it easy for everyone to view information on the origin and impact of our clothes but, thanks to an algorithm, it is also able to tell us how much the initial environmental cost of what we wear is amortised over time thanks to our love and use – thus incentivising, with a game, its long-term use.

Every second, the equivalent of a lorry load of clothes is either burnt or dumped. The social and environmental problems caused by the fashion industry stem from the fact that we have all been induced to emotionally disconnect ourselves from the clothes we buy” states Matteo Ward, CEO of WRÅD and initial creator of P.E.A.S. “For years we have all been reminded of the importance of loving our clothes and living in them for a long time in order to have a positive impact on the environment, but little, if anything, has changed – quite the contrary! This resulted in the need to create P.E.A.S., a smart game to counteract the overproduction and overconsumption of clothes in an innovative way”.

P.E.A.S. technology offers customers the chance to connect with their clothes through their smartphone, to interact with them and to monitor in real time how much of a concrete positive impact the way we wear them can have on their environmental footprint. To do this, P.E.A.S. develops and processes scientific data obtained, for this first pilot project, thanks to a Life Cycle Assessment, carried out by the Process Factory company, which calculated the environmental impact of all the production steps necessary to transform a tuft of cotton into a sweatshirt. An analysis of the production chain, tracked in a blockchain with reduced energy consumption, which therefore produced a snapshot of the environmental cost of the product with respect to 13 different areas of impact, from climate change to water consumption. P.E.A.S. uses and processes these to help us understand the real value of the sweatshirt and to inspire us to use it for a long time.

At each interaction with its users, P.E.A.S. recognises how long the sweatshirt has been used for, provides updates on the relative dilution of its environmental cost, rewards virtuous behaviour linked to its use and rewards, the most important of these being the radically revolutionary choice not to have abandoned it. On average, in the world, an item of clothing is thrown away once it has been used only 7 times. This consumption is excessive, and incompatible with any kind of contemporary sustainable development strategy. It must be countered.

This is the common goal that motivated this unique partnership between the Politecnico di Milano School of Management, the companies Mood, 1TrueID and WWG and WRÅD, united in their diversity of skills and functions by the desire to take the relationship between people and clothes to a new level of connection, for the good of society and the planet.

The results of our scientific research on the causes of non-sustainability in the fashion and luxury system show that it is impossible to achieve long-term sustainability goals without the active contribution of all stakeholders. To think that the responsibility for change lies with one specific link in the fashion supply chain is wrong and is also potentially counterproductive. With P.E.A.S., for the first time we have made an attempt to bring together all the parties in the sector, from fashion brands to suppliers upstream in the chain, to the end customer. Only with a responsible and collaborative attitude will it be possible to change the pace and achieve ambitious results in a short time” (Alessandro Brun, Full Professor of Quality Management and Supply Management, Politecnico di Milano School of Management).

P.E.A.S. is a technology that aims to cater for both companies, with customisable designs and applications, and, in the future, the general public. “It can only be called innovation when it is sustainable and has a positive impact on people, communities and our environment” (Mohamed Deramchi, CEO and founder of WWG).

The project was supported by Regione Lombardia through the Fashiontech call for applications, a measure that supports research and development projects aimed at achieving innovation in the “Textiles, fashion and accessories” sector, according to the principle of sustainability, from an environmental, economic and social point of view.

Presenting Green SUIte: a sustainability challenge involving 60 corporate teams

Agos, Gruppo Enercom, Sparkasse, Gruppo Tea and the Politecnico di Milano School of Management, backed by the Startup Intelligence Observatory, are promoting and rewarding virtuous behaviour inside and outside the company, in collaboration with the Up2You startup. 

 

Green SUIte is an environmental challenge – organised in collaboration with Up2You, an innovative start-up and B Corp certified company that promotes sustainable development – involving the employees of Agos, Gruppo Enercom, Sparkasse, Gruppo Tea and the Politecnico di Milano School of Management with a view to raising awareness, educating participants, and triggering a virtuous, sustainable conduct.

The project springs from an idea developed by Agos and Up2You at one of the round tables of the seventh Startup Intelligence Observatory, one of the 46 Observatories of the Politecnico di Milano School of Management aimed at driving open innovation and contamination with start-ups.  Green SUIte is designed as a fun means of highlighting issues related to sustainability, in line with the goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the ESG rating, through the active involvement of the employees of the participating companies. The event has been received positively, with about 600 of the companies’ 5,000 employees setting up 60 highly competitive teams.

For 12 weeks, the Green SUIte teams will take part in quizzes and missions aimed at developing a sustainability culture and an awareness of environmental issues, promoting the idea that being sustainable needn’t be tiring or boring. By engaging participants in small daily actions, such as creative cooking to reduce food waste, researching and bulk purchasing local, seasonal products, participating in shared mobility programmes, and making more virtuous use of technologies, greater awareness is raised on the environmental impact of each individual action, encouraging participants to be more environmentally friendly both inside and outside the company and to rethink their day-to-day lives from a new perspective. A case in point is the “Cross over to the dark side!” mission, in which participants will be encouraged to use their PCs and phones in dark mode. “Black is chic! But in addition to being cool (and making you feel cooler), the dark mode reduces energy consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions.” Difficult not to follow the Green SUite advice!

Green SUite is an innovative multi-company digital platform backed by a strong team spirit and concerned with involving business teams in sustainable actions. At the heart of the platform lies Play, a product by Up2You, the only company in Europe that, in addition to being authorised to manage Carbon Credits certified by VERRA and Gold Standard, does so using Blockchains.

This project has quickly become a virtuous example of Open Innovation, an approach that – partly aided by the pandemic – is increasingly proving to businesses the importance safeguarding our ecosystem while pursuing innovation and that collaboration is often key for developing solutions that can really change and have a lasting impact on a company and society as a whole.

The Startup Intelligence Observatory’s 2021 research data speaks volumes: more than one third of all major Italian companies already collaborate with start-ups, recording a positive trend compared to previous years. A truly comforting piece of information for Italy’s entire innovation ecosystem; one that reveals a paradigm shift, underscored by a growing number of success stories,” says Alessandra Luksch, Director of the Startup Intelligence Observatory. The Green SUite project has been made possible by the activities developed by the Startup Intelligence Observatory to promote open innovation in enterprises and by its lively community of partner companies. This initiative just goes to show that no one can innovate alone, and that collaboration can quickly generate concrete results and widespread benefits.”

Women and the balance between work and home care: what the pandemic can teach us


A joint research project between Università Cattolica and the Politecnico di Milano School of Management to study the impact of Covid-19 on the life of working women

 

Since March 2020, the CAREER (CARE for womEn woRk) project, funded by Fondo Integrativo Speciale per la Ricerca and stemming from the collaboration between Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (“Carlo Dell’Aringa”-CRILDA University Research Centre for Family Studies and Labour) and Politecnico di Milano School of Management (Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering Department), has been investigating the experiences of working women during the pandemic to identify areas of intervention and solutions. The project involves 14 researchers from Milan’s two universities. On Wednesday 1 December, the first results were presented at the event “Women and the balance between work and home care. What the pandemic can teach us”.

As a result of the project, the managers in charge, Claudia Manzi, Professor of Social Psychology at Università Cattolica, and Cristina Rossi-Lamastra, Professor of Business and Industrial Economics at Politecnico di Milano, have drawn up an extremely complex picture of the working conditions faced by women in the last year and a half.

Working from home during the pandemic has had two-fold consequences and effects on working women. On the one hand, it has provided an opportunity to improve their work-life balance and their work performance. On the other, the gender bias sees women handling most domestic and family affairs (virtually single-handedly), thus restricting their work-family balance to a single sphere, the domestic one. This has had negative consequences not so much on the work performance of working women, but on their levels of stress and mental well-being.

As Professor Manzi of Università Cattolica states: “The underlying cause of this situation may be found in a combination of cultural, relational, logistical and organisational preconceptions. From a cultural point of view, the still largely unconscious adoption of stereotypical prejudices on the role of women in the work world and in the family sphere has undoubtedly been a major obstacle for women workers.”

Such stereotypes,” says Professor Rossi-Lamastra, “result in an unequal allocation of resources. Through the CAREER project, we have seen that, when working from home, women are generally allocated a less adequate work space than men.”

Gender stereotypes have also been aggravated by a number of further situations: little and ill-formulated support from institutions and organisations, and in some cases, lack of support from partners, in addition to inadequate work spaces in the home.

The picture drawn by the research is certainly a complex one, but given how the world of work is evolving in Italy, if we are to promote and sustain female labour force participation then we need to take a less simplistic view of working from home. Above all, we need to develop a stronger sense of identity among working women in terms of their role within organisations and within society as a whole. Working from home should not become a way of preventing women from fulfilling their professional life and their identity as female workers.

The CAREER (CARE for womEn woRk) research project is still ongoing. For more information, please visit the official website at: https://projectcareer.it/

Also worthy reading are some more in-depth articles about the project recently published by Il Sole 24 Ore and IoDonna

 

Project HAwK wins 2021 Switch2Product | Innovation Challenge

Project HAwK proposed by Domenico Nucera (PhD Candidate, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering), Luca Bertulessi (Researcher, Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering) and Tommaso Maioli (Alumnus of Politecnico di Milano) has won the Switch2Product Grant in the category “Industry Transformation”, ranking among the top 26 teams on a total of 250 projects presented at the S2P program, organized by PoliHub, the Technology Transfer Office of Politecnico di Milano and Deloitte’s Officine Innovazione.

HAwK is a hardware accelerator for the analysis of data coming from high data rate sensors, with the aim of reducing costs and energy consumption, enabling Artificial Intelligence on edge.

The 30.000 euros prize will serve the purpose of the technological development of the project, which is going to be realized with the scientific advisory of DIG’s Professors Marco Macchi and Luca Fumagalli and DEIB’s Professor Salvatore Levantino.

Domenico Nucera has enrolled in the 37° PhD cycle in Management Engineering and has been working for 2 years at the Industry 4.0 Lab at DIG. Luca Bertulessi is a researcher at ARPLab at DEIB.
HAwK will be able to promote potential cross-disciplinary activities between the above mentioned DIG and DEIB laboratories.

The awards ceremony was held at MADE Competence Center Industry 4.0, in the Bovisa campus of Politecnico di Milano.

 

For further information, please click here.

“From data science to data culture: the emergence of analytics-powered managers”: now online the new issue of SOMeMagazine

SOMe, our eMagazine which shares stories, points of view and projects around key themes of our mission, has just released its Issue #7.

“From data science to data culture: the emergence of analytics-powered managers” is the topic we discussed with our Faculty.

Carlo Vercellis tells how digital technologies and algorithms analysing data play a crucial role in human evolution and in the transformation of our ways of thinking and living.

Behind the strengthening of data culture in companies lies the need to confront with challenges of the competitive scenario, explains Giuliano Noci. While according to Filomena Canterino, this new approach implies also the revision of organizational and leadership models.

Our “Stories” report the excellent achievement of the Milan’s neighbourhood Hubs against food waste: the project, which the School of Management is partner of since 2017, won the first edition of the prestigious international Earthshot Prize for the best solutions to protect the environment, in the section “a world without waste”.
We share also recent update on the impact of our research with some data from the Research Impact Assessment, a tool recently implemented by our School to assess the impact of our projects on society as a whole. And finally the Erasmus+ project WiTECH (Entrepreneurship for Women in Tech) which promotes the presence of women in the ICT sector.

 

To read SOMe’s #7 click here.

To receive it directly in your inbox, please sign up here.

Previous issues of SOMe:

  • # 1 “Sustainability – Beyond good deeds, a good deal?”
  • Special Issue Covid-19 – “Global transformation, ubiquitous responses”
  • #2 “Being entrepreneurial in a high-tech world”
  • #3 “New connections in the post-covid era”
  • #4 “Multidisciplinarity: a new discipline”
  • #5 “Inclusion: shaping a better society for all”
  • #6 “Innovation with a human touch”

Machine Learning & Big Data Analytics

Digital technologies and algorithms to analyse data represent the most recent evolution of intellectual technologies. They have transformed us into what we are today, into what we know, and into our ways of thinking. We live in close symbiosis with intellectual technologies and this will be increasingly the case with artificial intelligence algorithms

 

Carlo Vercellis, Full Professor of Machine Learning at School of Management, Politecnico di Milano

Most of our daily actions, purchases, movements, and personal or professional decisions are guided by a Machine Learning algorithm: it is convenient to receive suggestions about products to buy, hotels and means of transport for travel, and films or music we might like.

Many companies have been collecting large amounts of data in their information systems for decades. Credit card operators, who record almost two billion transactions over the course of a weekend, large retailers, Telco and utility providers.

However, the real revolution that has led to Big Data coincides with the advent of social networks, a phenomenon called the Internet of People. Each of us has gone from being a reader of information into an author of content. The need to store this immense and rapidly growing amount of data has led the large web companies to create a new type of database based on distributed network architectures and, in practice, to bring about the birth of the cloud.

In addition to people, there are now also ‘things’ on the Internet and this Internet of Things consists of countless objects equipped with sensors and often capable of intelligent and autonomous behaviour. We can turn on the lights in our homes from miles away, adjust our thermostats and watch through our video surveillance systems. Cars can drive autonomously without our intervention. This is a universe made up of almost 30 trillion sensors that record numerical values with a very high temporal frequency (one trillion is equal to ‘one’ followed by 18 ‘zeros’!). We also have digital meters for gas and power, capable of accurately recording how much we consume and suggesting behaviours to for more efficient sustainable use of energy. We wear fitness devices and smartwatches on our wrists, which record our physical activity, main vital parameters, eating habits, and the quality of our sleep, and provide us with useful suggestions to improve our physical condition. Smart objects that will help make our lives more and more comfortable.

From what we have said so far, it is clear that predictive value and applicative value help to generate great economic value, for businesses, for public administration, for citizens in general.

However, data in themselves are of no use if they are not automatically analysed by intelligent algorithms. In particular, machine learning algorithms in the field of artificial intelligence are applied to large volumes of data to recognise recurring regularities and to extract useful knowledge that makes it possible to predict future events with considerable accuracy. This is inductive logic, a bit like the learning mechanism of a child, to whom the mother points out a few examples of letters of the alphabet, enabling him in a short time to identify them independently and thus learn to read.

For example, algorithms are able to interpret the mood, the so-called ‘sentiment’, of text posts on social networks with 95-98% accuracy, which is higher than what a human reader could achieve. Similarly, algorithms are now able to perform automatic content and context recognition of analysed images with great precision.

Digital technologies and algorithms for analysing data represent the latest evolution of intellectual technologies and will help us live better. Suffice to think that throughout history, from the first prehistoric tools to the invention of writing, from the invention of printing to the conception of computers, intellectual technologies have been the driver behind human evolution. They have transformed us into what we are today, into what we know, and into our ways of thinking. We live in close symbiosis with intellectual technologies and this will be increasingly the case with artificial intelligence algorithms.

On the economic side, we observe that companies that are more mature in data analysis have a greater ability to compete and continue to strengthen compared companies that are less evolved and not as prompt in their adoption of digital innovation strategies. For years we have been used the term digital divide to refer to the gap between citizens with access to digital resources and those without. As part of the Big Data Analytics Observatory that we started up at Politecnico di Milano in 2008, last year we introduced the term Analytics Divide to indicate the gap that has been created and is unfortunately widening between companies that are virtuous in their use of big data and artificial intelligence and those that are less innovative, which will find it harder to get out of the swamp into which the virus has pushed us.

In order to progress as a data-driven company, it is however necessary to have adequate talent and skills, which can be obtained through the acquisition of new resources or the reskilling of resources already available in the company. With this in mind, at MIP-Politecnico di Milano we have launched several courses on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, and Data Science, such as the international Master in Business Analytics & Big Data and the executive course in Data Science & Business Analytics.

WiTECH – Entrepreneurship for Women in Technology

WiTECH (Entrepreneurship for Women in Tech), a European education project fully funded by the Erasmus+ Programme, is designed to encourage women to stay in the ICT sector and to empower them to reach their full potential through the creation of businesses in this sector

Not only is there a growing gap across Europe between the demand and supply for ICT specialists, but women are overwhelmingly under-represented in this sector. Furthermore, women who do choose ICT face a higher risk of dropping out because of unfavourable working conditions and lack of career progress.

Funded by the EU’s Erasmus+ initiative, the WiTECH project is led by Politecnico di Milano (specifically, by the School of Management and by the Department of Electronic, Informatics, and Bioengineering, DEIB).
Besides Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI), the WiTECH consortium includes two other technological universities (Lappeenrannan–Lahden teknillinen yliopisto, LUT, and Technological University Dublin, TUM), three tech start-up hubs (PoliHub, The Startup Shortcut, and Digital Hub Development Agency), as well as a business school (L’Institut de préparation à l’administration générale IPAG) from four European countries.

The team consists of professors and experts in highly relevant technical, educational, economic, and managerial fields from POLIMI. These include Massimo G. Colombo (Full Professor in Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Finance at SoM), Cristina Rossi-Lamastra (Full Professor of Business and Industrial Economics at SoM, with additional expertise in gender issues in business contexts), Mara Tanelli (Full Professor of Automatic Controls at DEIB), Nicoletta Trentinaglia (Senior Project Manager of e-learning, e-collaboration and learning innovation projects).
The project leaders from other partners are: Adnane Maalaoui (Director of Entrepreneurship Programmes – IPAG), Jussi Kasurinen  (Associate Professor and Head of Software Engineering Programmes – LUT), Barry Feeney  (Head of Department of Computing – TUD), Julia Witting-Mäklin (Director of Operations – The Shortcut).
The project also involves young scholars such as Silvia Stroe (Junior Researcher in Entrepreneurship at SoM) and Jie Li (PhD Student in Entrepreneurship at SoM).

Currently, the WiTECH project is putting together a blended learning course, which builds the skills and confidence that women with STEM qualifications need to create their own innovative businesses in ICT fields.
The heart of WITECH is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which is conceived as a self-sustaining tool to encourage professors to innovate their teaching practices. It targets Master’s students in STEM subjects, by being freely available online, it is also intended to spark interest in ICT among high school girls to encourage them to choose this field of studies.
The course will be promoted widely across Europe, after the development and testing of its contents during 2022.

This blended learning course consists of three modules:

Module 1:  Entrepreneurship and management.
Notions of entrepreneurship (including social entrepreneurship), how to become an executive of the 21st century (new working culture, corporate-social responsibility, diversity in the workplace, etc.)

Module 2: Technology entrepreneurship.
The notions of entrepreneurship applied to the specific challenges of starting a business in technology sectors.

Module 3: Training at a tech startup or a tech hub.
Understanding the context of tech startups or tech hubs in the framework of technology entrepreneurial ecosystems.

WiTECH started in Oct 2019, and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.  All the course content is now ready and the MOOC format is being produced. The website has just been launched: https://witech.training/.
The Linkedin page of the project is: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/wi-tech/.

We welcome you to join us!

Data culture and leadership culture: two sides of the same coin

Data experts are becoming key connectors in relationships within organisations. Data culture therefore brings with it the need to rethink organisational and leadership models

 

Filomena Canterino, Assistant Professor of People Management and Organization at School of Management, Politecnico di Milano 

For several years now, data analytics experts, the so-called data scientists and data analysts, have been among the most sought-after figures by companies across all sectors, from manufacturing and education to publishing. Their job is to gather, structure, analyse, interpret and summarise data, transforming it into information that is useful for the other players and decision-makers in an organisation.

Very often, the people in these roles are key connectors within the organisation, because they interact with individuals at various positions and levels, thus becoming reference points that transcend and, in some cases, even overturn traditional hierarchies. Data experts can in fact deliver great added value to almost all corporate areas, from maintenance and strategy to resources management and marketing. And in doing so, they interact with a host of different corporate players. Let us consider the typical example of the datafication of a production plant, in which a system of sensors is able to continuously gather real-time production performance data (for example, number of items manufactured, number of rejects, duration of downtime, number of breakdowns). By analysing and processing the data, and the information they manage to extrapolate from it, a data scientist or data expert can communicate effectively with operators, team leaders and top managers alike. They are able to give a voice to the machines, but also to the people who, armed with a more complete and detailed idea of the performance and potential areas for improvement, can put forward new solutions and ideas.

Just as often, unfortunately, people occupying these roles are superficially labelled as “nerds” and “geeks”, or other terms that allude to a certain familiarity with and interest in analytical and technical matters, and less interest or self-confidence in relationship, interpersonal and leadership aspects. Besides being narrow-minded – just think how many “nerds” are CEOs and leaders of big successful companies – this view is extremely limiting.

First of all, because it refers to an outdated view of the concept of leadership, i.e. innate, heroic leadership, based on “natural” charisma. Leadership experts and companies at the forefront with regard to these issues know all too well that people are not necessarily born leaders, but can become them – some with more effort than others, of course – simply because leadership is characterised by behaviours, or rather by actions that we can follow, practise and improve, and not by characteristics. So, surely also an individual with outstanding technical and analytical talent can identify and deploy the behaviours needed to interact with others and efficiently lead their team.
What is more, in the field of academic research, in which people have been aware for several decades of the fact that behaviour is more relevant than characteristics, the most recent studies have shown that leadership is actually a complex, dynamic and shared process in most cases, which stems from interaction between the various players of a system. If we look at it in this way, we could almost say that it could be more easily understood by individuals in charge of intercepting and interpreting data flows than by others.

Secondly, this type of view makes managing the development of these figures within organisations ineffective, precisely because it shines the spotlight on the wrong thing, i.e on the personal characteristics of those occupying a specific role, rather than on the organisation’s leadership model.

So what can be done to put these roles in a position to reach their full potential and develop their content- and process-based leadership qualities?

By all means, we can promote a cultural model that views leadership as something that is shared and widespread, based on actions and behaviour and on the concept of accountability – whereby each and every individual or small team is responsible for a small part of the result. All this can be achieved through coherent training and development plans across the entire organisation, as well as through digital technologies, which facilitate data acquisition and sharing to inform decisions and shorten hierarchical chains as a result. Data, accountability and shared leadership: a virtuous circle in which data experts can be true protagonists.

 

Research Impact Assessment: a continually evolving model

The Politecnico di Milano School of Management has been promoting a culture of assessment and improvement of research impact on institutions, companies, students, professors, citizens and academic communities since 2016

 

Federico Caniato, Full Professor of Supply Chain and Procurement Management at School of Management, Politecnico di Milano 
Stefano Magistretti, Assistant Professor of Innovation and Design Management at School of Management, Politecnico di Milano

The contribution made by universities to society is being called into question more and more often nowadays. They are therefore increasingly asked to measure and demonstrate this contribution, which is often described as an “impact”. The traditional approach consisted in identifying three major missions: research, training and the so-called “third mission”, a broad term encompassing interactions with society as a whole, such as technology transfer, cultural promotion and external communications. However, there is a limitation to this approach, as it risks seeing the three missions as separate activities, each with its own rules and metrics.

The School of Management has been working on this subject since 2016 with a more integrated approach. Rather than viewing the three missions as separate entities, research is seen as an engine able to generate impact on multiple domains, not only on the academic community and students, but on society in general. We promote a culture of research impact assessment and improvement for this reason, in line with our mission:

to contribute to the collective good through a critical understanding of the opportunities offered by innovation. We accomplish this mission by creating and sharing knowledge through high quality teaching, exceptional research and active engagement with the community”.

When we embarked on this journey, we aimed, first and foremost, to encourage all our colleagues to reflect on the broader impact of their research projects. In the early years, we focused on stimulating critical thinking and encouraging the creation of an impact measurement culture. In the beginning, we did not assume that all projects, from the simplest to the most complex and the shortest to the longest, would have an impact on different areas of our school’s mission. However, this culture of measurement was, and still is to this day, fundamental in assessing and demonstrating the impact on many domains and not only on the most traditional indicators (e.g. number of academic publications and number of publications in newspapers).

We therefore felt the need to develop our own model to guide impact assessment throughout the SoM, which would enable us to pursue the following objectives:

  • Raising awareness throughout our entire community
  • Learning to assess the impact of research
  • Encouraging all our colleagues to plan, conduct and disseminate research aimed at having a measurable impact
  • Improving the capacity to account for the impact generated
  • Recognising the results of research conducted by the SoM
  • Publishing research results both within the SoM and externally

To meet these objectives, we built a model, inspired by the scientific literature, identifying five domains and three levels of maturity of research impact.
Impact is measured in the following five domains:

  1. Institutions
  2. Companies
  3. Students and professors
  4. Citizens
  5. The academic community

The impact on each domain is then measured on a three-level increasing maturity scale:

  • Communication of research results
  • Adoption of research results
  • Benefits obtained through adoption

This model was deliberately designed to be general, so that it could be adapted to the various themes and types of research conducted at the SoM. Precise indicators need to be identified for each domain and maturity level, and they should be quantitative wherever possible (e.g. number of participants at events, number of journal articles published, number of academic conferences organised), thus enabling us to measure and demonstrate impact. The indicators chosen should be consistent with the nature of each individual research project.

The model was tested first of all by a few colleagues who assessed 16 projects according to these dimensions in 2019. This enabled us to evaluate the soundness and validity of the model and identify many useful metrics for the various domains and different maturity levels.

In 2020, we invested in engaging everyone at the SoM in performing this important exercise, thereby broadening involvement and carrying out the Research Impact Assessment for 42 different projects conducted within the SoM, with at least one for each line of research of the SoM.
It was primarily an opportunity for training and reflection on the topic across the school, with sessions organised to give those involved a chance to exchange views and discuss the process.
A booklet was compiled with a summary and the main findings, featuring a wealth and variety of impacts. It will serve at first as a tool for internal communication to raise awareness and gather best practices.

Our work continues. We have already started gathering data for 2021, with a view to updating the information on the 42 projects and expanding participation even further. Our hope is that this exercise will make it increasingly possible not only to measure impact retrospectively, but also to plan the impact of research projects from the very outset. We also hope that this assessment will eventually cover all domains and reach the highest possible level of maturity, in other words, that of real benefits.

SER Social Energy Renovations

The H2020 project to finance sustainable construction in the service sector has begun

 

Financing sustainable building renovations in the service sector with an innovative tool that will accelerate the ecological transition and counteract energy poverty: This is the objective of the European project SER-Social Energy Renovations, which sees the participation of the Italian CGM Finance, the School of Management of the Politecnico di MilanoENEA, and Fratello Sole, a consortium of non-profit entities dedicated to fighting energy poverty. Other partners include the Spanish company GNE Finance, the project leader, Secours Catholique-Caritas France, and the Bulgarian branch of Econoler.

Financed under the Horizon 2020 programme, the project will last three years, in which a de-risking mechanism will be designed and developed to reduce the risk associated with financing and allow access to credit, even for subjects with limited economic capacity. The mechanism will include analysis and technical standardization when defining interventions to make buildings more energy efficient.

The projects will be consolidated and subject to social impact assessment and then financed, allowing investors to access safe, effective investments in line with ESG criteria. It will also allow social companies to carry out green renovations at accessible prices with the necessary technical assistance.

ENEA and Fratello Sole will involve service entities and select buildings used for non-profit activities, intervening with energy-efficient and sustainable restorations. Energy renovation will be carried out by Fratello Sole Energie Solidali – ESCo, a joint venture between Fratello Sole Scarl and Iren Energia.

Within the project, the School of Management will identify indicators to assess and analyse the social impact of the financed projects.

“The question of evaluating social impact is as current as it is complex, growing from a topic of interest to few people into an integral part of business strategy and an essential issue in finance”, explains Mario Calderini, Professor of Social Innovation in the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering.
He adds: “This project aims to improve not only the environmental impact generated by building efficiency interventions, but also the social impact generated by service-sector organizations, which will be able to offer better services due to the benefits of such interventions.” 

Finally, Secours Catholique-Caritas France, together with the Bulgarian branch of the energy efficiency consultation company Econoler, will explore the possibility of replicating of this tool in other European countries.