Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale

MNEs and entrepreneurship for development

About the project

Research component: MNEs and infrastructure deployment in developing countries;
Achieving the SDGs through entrepreneurship; Africa National Innovation Systems for entrepreneurship and innovation in energy, mobility and advanced manufacturing
Capacity building component: Dissemination through MOOCs, Training and mentoring innovation leaders from Africa

Principal Investigators:  Paola Garrone, Luca Grilli, Lucia Piscitello

Researcher team: Paola Garrone, Luca Grilli, Lucia Piscitello, Fulvia Farinelli (UNCTAD), Fiorina Mugione (UNCTAD), Felipe Repetto, Fabio Lamperti, Boris Mrkajic

Funders: Multiple

Duration: 2014-present

Partners: Multiple


Access to electricity in SSA

Young and Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Egypt

The project aims at fostering youth entrepreneurship in developing countries, through the involvement of business incubators and multinational companies.

The research is part of a lively and fairly recent debate concerning entrepreneurship in developing countries as a lever for sustainable development, and the effects of youth entrepreneurship on social cohesion and economic growth. The Egyptian situation has been chosen as an empirical case study, since it bears problems and instances of change more generally referable to the MENA area (Middle East and North Africa).   everal interviews with government agencies, non-profit organizations, and local subsidiaries of multinational companies have shed light on the multiplicity of actors, influential at different levels on this policy area. In particular, we studied the role played by business incubators and multinational companies in institutionally void contexts as bearers of key knowledge, technology transfer and human capital formation. The cooperation with UNCTAD, METID of Politecnico di Milano led to design and produce two Massive Open Online Courses about entrepreneurship in developing countries, and a Youth Business Challenge “Start-Ups for SDGs”. The challenge winners from developing countries take part in the Global Entrepreneurship Week of Geneva and the Pitching Event organized by UNCTAD, thanks to the  sponsorship of Associazione Gianluca Spina

AIL – Africa Innovation Leaders

The team is conducting a research and capacity building project that aims to foster Africa transition toward the so-called Next Production Revolution. The project includes both research on local innovation systems and training, exposure and mentoring activities. The latter are designed to accompany a selected and qualified group of Innovation Leaders from 6 African countries, belonging to the different regions in the Continent, to this target, with as special focus on energy, mobility and digitalization technologies. The research team (i) has produced the country reports that describe the National Innovation Systems (NIS) of Ethiopia, Kenya and Mozambique, with a focus on entrepreneurship and the role of private business, (ii) has designed and coordinated the training and exposure activities, (iii) is mentoring participants from Kenya in their final project (Enhancement of Maize Production Through Digitization).


  • Garrone, P., Piscitello, L., D’Amelio, M.  (2018). Multinational enterprises and the provision of collective goods in developing countries under informal institutional voids. The case of electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa, Journal of International Management, in press.
  • Garrone, P., Piscitello, L., Rotondi, V., Elia, S. (2018), “Assessing the impact of entrepreneurship training: the case of Empretec Panama”. In White Paper:  Measuring Entrepreneurship Policies, Geneva: OECD, Kauffman Foundation and UNCTAD.
  • Mrkajic, B. (2017). Business incubation models and institutionally void environments. Technovation, 68, 44-55.
  • D’Amelio, M., Garrone, P., & Piscitello, L. (2016). Can Multinational Enterprises Light up Developing Countries?: Evidences from the Access to Electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. World Development, 88, November, 12-32.
  • Garrone P., Piscitello L., Rotondi V., Scalera V., 2016, “A conceptual note on MNEs, business linkages and indigenous entrepreneurship: Evidence from case studies in Egypt”,  XXVII Riunione Scientifica Annuale Associazione italiana di Ingegneria Gestionale, Bergamo, 13-14 Ottobre 2016.
  • MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses (POK  –  Polimi Open Knowledge, https://www.pok.polimi.it/ ): “Entrepreneurs without borders”,  “Designing and Implementing Effective Entrepreneurship Policies”, joint initiatives with METID of Politecnico di Milano and UNCTAD.
Other outputs

Youth Business Challenge “Start-Ups for SDGs”, 2017 and 2018, joint initiatives with UNCTAD, Associazione Gianluca Spina and METID of Politecnico di Milano


Competitive funding (Polisocial Award 2014, “Young and sustainable entrepreneurship in Egypt for a more inclusive society” grant), free research, direct funding (AICS – Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo,“Emerging African Innovation Leaders G7 Exchange & Empowerment Program  for enabling Innovation within the Next Production Revolution”; Associazione Gianluca Spina)


  • Henley Business School
  • University of Reading (UK)
  • Department of Energy of Politecnico di Milano
  • UNCTAD (United Nations Conference for Trade and Development)
  • METID of Politecnico di Milano
  • AICS (Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation)