A transition towards sustainable agricultural and forestry practices: the goal of the PRUDENT project

A new European project with the aim of revolutionizing current practices and accelerating the transition towards environmentally friendly systems.


PRUDENT aims to change the way agricultural and forestry systems currently operate to accelerate the transition towards sustainable agricultural and forestry practices and intelligent agricultural technologies.

A four-year research project that makes innovation its cornerstone, studying the effectiveness of “green nudges” – a term that can be translated as gently pushing towards action – in promoting sustainable practices and technologies in the agricultural and forestry sectors and the development of social innovation and business models, along with policies supporting the future Common Agricultural Policy.

Four different systems representing the main agricultural and forestry systems will be studied to account for the heterogeneity of systems and agricultural/forestry contexts in various regions of Europe: arable land, perennial crops, livestock, and forests.

The concept of “Green nudges” plays a central role and focuses on positive and gentle interventions aimed at encouraging individuals or organizations to adopt sustainable behaviors, innovative nudging tools, and transformative pathways to incentivize the transition towards fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly systems.

Leveraging extensive experience in sustainability-oriented innovation for the agri-food sector and behavioral economics, the team from the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano is led by Raffaella Cagliano and Massimo Tavoni.

During a time span of four years, their multi-disciplinary team of researchers will work in close collaboration with Jacopo Bonan, from the affiliated entity CMCC (Fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici), to design nudging experiments and test the impact of nudges to promote sustained behavioural change towards sustainable agriculture and forestry.

The project leader is the Agricultural University of Athens (Greece). The partners include, in addition to the Polytechnic University of Milan, the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Belgium), the University of Trento (Italy), Green & Digital Idiotiki Kefalaiouchiki Etaireia (Greece), Balkan Eco-Innovations (Serbia), Athens University Of Economics And Business – Research Center (Greece), European Forest Institute (Finland), Q-plan International Advisors PC (Greece), Boerenbond (Belgium), AgriFood Lithuania DIH (Lithuania), Associazione Nazionale Condifesa Italia (Italy), Jrc -Joint Research Centre- European Commission (Belgium).

Got a Radical Idea at Work? Find a Partner

The story of Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, the winners of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries underpinning the mRNA vaccines against Covid-19, holds lessons for others pursuing radical ideas. In their article in Harvard Business Review, Paola Bellis, Assistant Professor in Organizational Behavior and Leadership and Innovation, and Roberto Verganti, Professor in Leadership and Innovation, draw on their interview with Karikó and those of others with Weissman and her, to extrapolate lessons on why pairs can be more effective in pursuing seemingly wild ideas and how to find someone to take the journey with you.


Imagine you have an unorthodox idea — one that challenges the dominant assumptions in your organization and industry. How do you develop it? Moving forward alone is hard. On the other hand, you are unlikely to attract or be provided with a large team to pursue an idea that most see as crazy.

The research by Paola Bellis and Roberto Verganti suggests that such radical thinkers thrive in a unique organizational setting by finding one other individual to work with — by operating in pairs.

The article “Got a Radical Idea at Work? Find a Partner.” recently published in Harvard Business Review, explores why and how a couple can help develop unorthodox ideas.

In addition to the interpretation of the story of Katalin Karikò and Drew Weissman’s – based on an interview and other sources – the study is based on more than 30 interviews with couples around the world and on the analysis of more than 60 famous cases, such as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak for the development of the personal computer, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, to name a few.

Among the success factors of innovative couples emerge relational and behavioral aspects, such as the fact that daring to share a crazy idea is easier in the intimate space of working as a couple. Couples are also more resistant than teams to the difficult moments typical of radical innovation.

To read the complete article:
Got a Radical Idea at Work? Find a Partner” – Harvard Business Review



Innovation and Value Creation Research Seminar 2023 (IVC2023)

Politecnico di Milano School of Management has recently hosted Professor Ralf Reichwald’s wide research community for this annual event that for the first time has taken place in Italy.


The Innovation and Value Creation Research Seminar 2023 (IVC2023) took place from May 4th to May 6th at the School of Management at Politecnico di Milano. Over 45 professors and PhD researchers from Germany, Austria and Italy joined the seminar to present and discuss their recent research results. IVC2023 joined intellect, curiosity, and openness, resulting in an intensive exchange of ideas between participants. With ten sessions spanning various domains, the seminar delved into digitalization and business models, open innovation, and innovation ecosystems, servitization and smart manufacturing, as well as sustainable transformation and circular economy.

The seminar started with a pre-conference dinner on May 4th where the researchers had the possibility to come together and have initial discussions before the beginning of the seminar sessions. Over the course of 1,5 days, this event provided an engaging platform for PhD candidates from Germany and Italy to present their research findings in the realms of innovation and value creation. So far, the research seminar with all its previous editions has taken place only in German and Austrian universities. The 18th edition of this year’s seminar is the first time the seminar is organized in Italy.

The PhD researchers highlighted the transformative power of digital technologies in shaping and disrupting traditional industries, emphasizing the need for organizations to adapt and innovate continuously and to accommodate new ways of doing business such as servitization models. The discussions centered around the strategies, frameworks, and new forms of leadership that drive successful digitalization efforts, with the objective of illuminating the path for companies seeking to harness the full potential of digital technologies.

Open innovation and innovation ecosystems illustrate the power of collaboration and co-creation in fostering innovation. The seminar participants explored the importance of creating conducive environments that encourage knowledge sharing, facilitate partnerships, and promote innovation by leveraging tools such as living labs and product service system demonstrators. The emerging models and best practices discussed during the sessions underscored the need for organizations to embrace a more inclusive and collaborative approach to innovation, while emphasizing the role of boundary spanning objects and investigating the exploitation-exploration dilemma that emerge in innovation projects.

In the area of sustainable transformation and circular economy, many interesting contributions have been provided, in particular regarding the emerging area of regenerative business models and bio-based materials, a growing field that promises less pollution and CO2-emissions. The participants showcased their research on business models and use cases to achieve sustainability, emphasizing the role of circular economy principles in promoting resource efficiency and reducing waste. The discussions touched upon various aspects, including sustainable business models, eco-design, and the importance of stakeholder engagement in achieving a circular and regenerative economy.

The research seminar was not only an opportunity for PhD candidates to present their research, but also a platform for networking and fostering interdisciplinary collaborations. The engaging Q&A sessions and the intense discussions during the breaks provided valuable insights and generated thought-provoking ideas for future research endeavors. The exchange of experiences, methodologies, and perspectives among the participants fostered a stimulating intellectual environment, nurturing innovation and pushing the boundaries of knowledge. In the words of Prof. Dr. Kathrin Möslein, Friedrich-Alexander-UniversitaetErlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), Germany, the research seminar was a real innovation booster.

The research seminar was also an opportunity for the guests from Germany and Austria to get to know better the Italian culture. In addition to the pre-conference and conference dinners on May 4th and 5th organized in authentic Italian restaurants where the partcipants could enjoy the richness of the Italian cuisine, the research seminar’s program also offered a guided tour on May 5th in the city of Milan, starting from Corso di Porta Ticinese, 35 in front of Basilica di San Lorenzo and ended up at the conference dinner restaurant.

In conclusion, IVC2023 benefited from the passion and dedication of all participants in the fields of innovation and value creation. The presented studies provided a solid foundation for future advancements, in the areas of digitalization, open innovation, and sustainable practices as catalysts for economic growth and societal well-being. At the end of the event, the next seminar’s location has been announced. The IVC2024 will be organized at the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt by Prof. Dr. Sabine Brunner and her team. We look forward to the next edition of this research seminar.

AIRIC: First Annual Meeting

Presentation of the Politecnico di Milano centre for applied research in artificial research


AIRIC, the Politecnico di Milano’s Artificial Intelligence Research and Innovation Centre, held its first Annual Meeting on Monday 21 November.

The meeting was an opportunity to introduce the new centre which brings together the Politecnico’s core expertise in artificial intelligence and process innovation, and to share the results of the first research projects which were presented directly by the first businesses to support the initiative.

AIRIC positions itself as an extremely innovative research centre. Inspired by the best international experience, at the heart of AIRIC is its multidisciplinary approach: technical skills for the development of algorithms and artificial intelligence tools, which naturally sit within the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, and management and project management capabilities, provided by the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering. Likewise, AIRIC also draws on collaboration with all other departments, from both a technical and an applied perspective.

AIRIC’s mission is to help businesses to understand the potential of artificial intelligence, to guide them in the introduction of AI to their processes and products and to support them in the development of internal capabilities that are a match for future challenges. The crown jewel of the collaboration is the ability to develop ad hoc solutions, including by assisting the business with the transition and any technical training necessary: an essential combination for the creation of a competitive advantage and the expert use of AI in order to deliver business value.

AIRIC is directed by professors Nicola Gatti and Marcello Restelli from the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering and by Giovanni Miragliotta from the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering.

NEXT GENERATION UPP: a project to improve the justice system in Northwest Italy

NEXT GENERATION UPP seeks to provide a more efficient method for managing judicial affairs and thus help reduce the backlog and the average length of judicial proceedings.


NEXT GENERATION UPP is coordinated by the University of Turin in partnership with eleven universities in Northwest Italy – including the Politecnico di Milano with the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering and the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies. The project is promoted by the Ministry of Justice within the framework of the NOP on Governance and Institutional Capacity 2014-2020 and carried out in synergy with the interventions envisaged by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) in support of justice reform.

Next Generation UPP aims to improve the justice system in Northwest Italy through the strengthening of Trial Offices (UPP), technological innovation, and trialling new collaborative schemes between universities and judicial offices. It is aimed at courts in the Macro Area 01, which includes the Appeal Courts of Brescia, Genoa, Milan and Turin, the Courts and the Juvenile Courts of the corresponding districts.

In particular the working group from the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, led by Prof. Giancarlo Vecchi, is mapping the organisation of the Trial Office at the Appeal Court and the Court of Milan.
The analysis seeks to show in detail the organisational solutions put in place, the strengths and weaknesses and the impact in terms of reduction of backlog and disposition time, i.e., the time taken to reach final determination in judicial proceedings. In addition, it will design and trial innovative organisational solutions to consolidate, strengthen and transfer the obtained results.

The project, launched on 1 April 2022, will be concluded on 30 September 2023.

For more information:
Prof. Giancarlo Vecchi: giancarlo.vecchi@polimi.it

Talents and the challenges for education

Teaching and learning innovation will be central in the next few years, enabled also by – though not exclusively – digital technologies. In this evolving scenario, a holistic view on programmes’ learning experience shall be the guiding principle with also great attention paid to learning assessment methods.


We discussed it with Marika Arena, Professor of Accounting Finance and Control and Director of the Programme in Management Engineering.


The pandemic has been a shock that enabled changes that usually take centuries. What is left of our inheritance?

I think that the biggest heritage is the way the pandemic fostered the diffusion of technological instruments for teaching and learning. Digital technologies already existed before the pandemic, which made their presence pervasive, forcing all of us to use them. Today, we can continue using digital technologies for teaching and learning, taking the best out of these solutions and combining them with face-to-face activities.

On the one hand, digital technologies have facilitated many ordinary activities: they represent a useful support for students involved in international mobility projects, or those who work and cannot attend the lectures regularly. On the other hand, digital technologies provided brand new opportunities.
One interesting example is represented by collaborative classes, where two professors of different universities in different countries design and implement a course together, and the students of the two courses participate to the lectures jointly or collaborate on common activities and projects. This is something really powerful because allows all the students to experience an international environment, even if they are not involved in mobility projects.


What is the impact of digital technologies on students’ participation and teaching modes?

Students’ engagement and participation has changed a lot with hybrid teaching (intended as the combination of online and face-to-face teaching). A risk that is inherent to hybrid teaching is the limited participation and engagement of online students compared to those in the classroom, partly because interacting with a student is easier if they are in front of us, partly because online students could be less prone to intervene. In my opinion, this is something that could be detrimental to the learning experience and should be revised in terms of students’ engagement to make sure that they can participate and feel engaged regardless the fruition mode they choose.
This approach is obviously much more difficult since a professor needs to manage two communication channels instead of one.  This is one of the cases in which digital technologies can help us. One simple example is represented by the use of online surveys in class to collect answers and contributions from a large and dispersed audience, or by the use of different collaboration instruments (e.g. online whiteboards).
However, technology is not enough:  in order to obtain engagement and participation, courses need to be at least partially redesigned, often by rethinking the way content is presented, in order to create opportunities for discussion.


“Passion in Action”: what is it? Why?

Passion in Action is a “catalogue” of educational activities that students can attend on voluntary basis. These activities aim to support our students to develop transversal, soft and social skills, and to encourage them to nurture their interests, beyond the “standardized” academic offer.

Thanks to Passion in Action, our students can get acquainted with totally new subjects that may be far from their academic path, or they can enrich their knowledge approaching one topic from very different perspectives.

This catalogue of opportunities is dynamic and constantly updated since new courses are proposed on a monthly basis. Hence, it represents a precious resource that allows our students to personalize their path and access a variegated academic offer, with different levels of intensity.


What are the future projects for the Management Engineering study course?

Teaching and learning innovation will be central in the next few years. Many professors have already developed innovating initiatives in their own courses, introducing flipped classroom, project-based learning, digital twin, simulations, etc.

However, when it comes to innovating initiatives there are two aspects that in my opinion should be taken into account. First, innovating teaching implies necessarily a reflection on the innovation of the learning assessment methods. Learning assessment is an integral part of a course and its design is strictly connected to the design, organization and administration of the course itself. Second, innovation should be considered and designed also at the Programme level (and not only at course level), with a holistic view of students’ learning experience. This means designing the Programme not only in terms of contents, that obviously are crucial, but also in terms of teaching modes, exposing our students to different approaches and different learning experiences.


The manager of the future? They’re a designer

Designers who become managers, managers who learn the tools of design. The “contamination” between these professionals is one of the answers to growing complexity. And it is at the centre of the Master in Strategic Design for Innovation and Transformation, as Claudio Dell’Era and Cabirio Cautela explain

Until a few years ago we were (or we thought we were) able to understand the world by relying on an analytical approach, that is based on well-defined methodologies, logic and categories. Today this is no longer the case. Growing complexity requires a change of pace, with the involvement of new abilities like intuitiveness and creativity. «It is the reason today’s managers can benefit from the adoption of skills offered by design», explains Professor Claudio Dell’Era, who together with Professor Cabirio Cautela is co-director of the Master in Strategic design for Innovation and Transformation at MIP Politecnico di Milano. «Indeed, the challenges of the world of work require a strengthened managerial figure, more contemporary and increasingly in demand».

The evolution of designers

At the same time, during the last twenty years designers themselves have seen their role gradually evolve. «On one hand they have gone from being technical figures to increasingly become managers. Just think of automotive, for example, with Chris Bangle in BMW and Walter De Silva in Audi, and then in all those sectors in which the language of the product, its structure, its meaning have an important impact on positioning» explains Cautela. «On the other hand, designers have started to become increasingly present in the marketing departments of companies, becoming fundamental not so much in product design, as in new offer solutions, that is the integrated process between product, service, communication and distribution».

Humans at the centre

The reason a company regulated on the principles of design ends up having a competitive advantage is the centrality of the human element. «Design presupposes a bottom-up involvement of employees. Only in this way is it possible to give meaning to one’s work, putting human values  before more functional and technical ones», explains Dell’Era. «This is an increasingly indispensable dynamic, a necessity more than a choice». The repercussions are also positive for users: «The new recipe for innovation must push us to create products, services and solutions that make peoples’ life experiences more pleasing. They are the people that we must put at the centre of our reflections».

Good design sells better

A point of view that is also echoed in the considerations of Cautela: «Good design makes you sell more, but above all it makes you sell better.   Because it starts from a vision of people, and not a corporate one, because it puts at the centre change, emerging cultural models, relations. Business is a consequence, not the end». And the workers involved also benefit from this: «Employee engagement is greater if it is tied to a deep motivation, to a purpose. That is not the profit, or a higher salary. The design leader must convey precisely this concept: the aim is to change peoples’ lives in a certain way. An approach that allows to retain human resources who truly believe in the corporate purpose, giving them an opportunity to enhance their creativity». 

The master’s degree  

These are the issues and the challenges which the Master in Strategic Design for Innovation and Transformation tries to address, offering training to managers who want to acquire design tools and to designers that instead feel a need for stronger managerial training. «The question we started from is:  who is the design leader?», explains Cautela. «The answer is that it is not someone who only has an ability to proactively offer solutions, but who also instils new values in the organization. To define this role, we used four thematic blocks: the first involves design as a lens with which to approach innovation, to give value to the products also for the meaning they embody. The second theme is that of leadership and engagement, as we have said. The third is that of data supporting creativity: not big data, but “thick” data, qualitative (feelings, reactions) data that provides information on individuals dealings with objects. Lastly, the fourth block involves the issue of the integration of creativity in organizations. How can it be done? It is a question that is often faced in big corporations, because the integration of new creative processes is always complex. But, if done well, it can lead to big benefits».


Launch of the Executive PhD in Innovation in collaboration with Tsinghua University

The presence of the School of Management in China is all set to be strengthened by a recently launched new project, the Executive PhD in Innovation,  a programme that is part of the China-Italy Design Innovation Hub. Protagonists of this, the biggest European innovation hub, Politecnico di Milano and Tsinghua University are proactive in the research and training of the talents and innovative leaders of the future.

Collaboration between Politecnico di Milano and Tsinghua University officially started in February 2017 with foundation of the China-Italy Design Innovation Hub in the presence of Sergio Mattarella and Xi Jinping, and, maturing over the years, it has led to the launch of this Executive PhD.

This Executive PhD will bring together Chinese and Italian academic excellences in an innovative programme, designed to teach senior profiles to creatively combine years of experience with applied research to generate ideas and innovative solutions, and also to help growth in businesspeople and managers who promote innovation by integrating managerial competences and scientific thinking.

The opening ceremony was held on 10 September, in the presence of Prof. Ferruccio Resta, Rector of Politecnico di Milano, Prof. Giuliano Noci, Vice Rector for China and Prof. Paolo Trucco, Project Director.
A chance to highlight the importance of collaboration between the two universities and recall significant moments from Italy-China relations.

Poste Italiane partners with the students of the School of Management for a challenge on innovation

Students of the Politecnico di Milano School of Management present innovative solutions in response to the challenges posed by Poste Italiane in three specific areas of interest: rethinking the workplace after the pandemic, devising innovative digital payment solutions, and strengthening brand reputation.

The challenge, organised by Poste Italiane and the Politecnico di Milano School of Management, involved about 220 students of the Leadership&Innovation course of the Laurea Magistrale (equivalent to a Master of Science) in Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering. Split into 30 teams, the aim of the project was to bridge the gap between academia and the business world.

Rethinking the workplace of the future

The students were asked to focus on a very complex issue far removed from their everyday life: imagining the post-pandemic workplace, the workspaces of the future, so as to respond to new work needs increasingly centred on the use of digital collaboration technologies and remote working.
Drawing inspiration from the world’s most innovative companies, the students conjured up work environments that promote collaboration through spaces encouraging informal relationships among employees, so as to foster social cohesion – something that the pandemic has penalised considerably.

Solutions to encourage digital payments

The students also tackled another important issue, that of digital payments, which represent one of the most important innovations in the process of digitisation, for the growth not just of Poste Italiane but of the country as a whole.
The digital payment solutions developed focus particularly on environmental and sustainability issues by rewarding, for example, merchants who choose to join green projects. Poste Italiane places particular importance on this topic, and indeed has adopted the new Postepay Green card to kick off the conversion of payment products to environmentally friendly materials.
Many projects have also highlighted the importance of involving not only consumers and merchants, but also local associations with a view to promoting and financing local and neighbourhood initiatives. Moreover, the purchase of a particular service or product expresses personal tastes and preferences and therefore one’s own identity projected towards the outside world.

All the projects reveal the importance of engagement as a lever for reaching both merchants and customers, with some students going so far as to suggest the use of gamification to maintain a high level of engagement.

Strengthening brand reputation

Finally, the students had to tackle the challenge of strengthening the reputation of Poste Italiane among the younger Generation Z, with whom the Politecnico students themselves could easily identify, many of them being born between 1995 and 2001. The goal of this challenge was to convey a new corporate image, making it attractive for young users, both for professional purposes and for training and guidance. Several solutions were submitted: platforms and applications aimed at prompting knowledge of Poste Italiane among those external to the company; new methods of engagement through, for example, on-site events; and even the possibility of using new social channels to reach the target audience more easily.

“Innovation with a human touch”: now online the new issue of SOMeMagazine

SOMe Issue #6 has been released, the eMagazine of our School which shares stories, points of view and projects around key themes of our mission.

This issue is focused on “Innovation with a human touch”, discussing the role of human and humanities in technological progress and innovation.

We interviewed  Giovanni Valente, who explains how much human and social sciences are essential to face any innovative challenge in the scientific and technological field, making the interdisciplinary approach fundamental in scientific studies.

Man must be at the centre of digital transformation and technologies have to be developed for and not instead of humans, as Raffaella Cagliano, Claudio Dell’Era and Stefano Magistretti tell in their editorials about Industry 4.0 and Design Thinking.

But can technological innovation be truly on a human scale? Giovanni Miragliotta tries to answer to this question considering how much new technologies deeply changed our society and work.

Finally, we feature some of our recent research ”Stories”: the economic impact of climate change, the re-use of electronic waste to create eco-compatible products, the distribution of Venture Capital in Europe.



To read SOMe’s #6 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”