Bocconi for Innovation's Three Parts Support Every Stage of DevelopmentTHE NEW HUB AT BOCCONI UNIVERSITY HAS ALREADY ESTABLISHED PARTNERSHIPS WITH CITI FOUNDATION, HENKELX, THE ITALIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, POLITECNICO DI MILANO AND UNIVERSITA' DEGLI STUDI DI MILANO
A platform of services and support for entrepreneurial activities, acting as pre-accelerator, accelerator and a place for the development of corporate entrepreneurship. This is Bocconi for Innovation (B4i), Bocconi University’s new hub, which already has partnerships with Citi Foundation, HenkelX, the Italian Institute of Technology, Politecnico di Milano and Università degli Studi di Milano.
Bocconi for Innovation will work on several fronts: as a pre-accelerator, it will welcome business ideas to support them up to a minimum viable product (MVP). At the same time, it will provide services and support for the acceleration of companies that are already in the startup phase to lead them towards their actual business.
Startups will be selected within the three areas of the accelerator’s focus: digital-tech (entrepreneurial ideas with particularly promising innovations and technologies), coordinated by Massimo Della Ragione; Made in Italy (manufacturing, fashion, food and various other ramifications), coordinated by Gabriella Lojacono; and sustainability, coordinated by Stefano Pogutz. The acceleration phase, lasting four months (with two sessions per year), will host up to 30 startups. They will be offered mentorships, assistance in forming contacts with investors, support in the various stages of development and funding of €30,000 for each startup.
Finally, corporate entrepreneurship: on this front, the endeavor is to help companies innovate and develop their business by encouraging the creation of bridges between companies and startups.
"Our goal is to create a hub in which entrepreneurship can develop, grow and take flight," explains Bocconi Operating Director for Innovation, Nico Valenti Gatto. "We want to create a platform that provides services and support and whose work also contributes to stopping the drain of talent away from Italy."
Massimo Della Ragione, Digital-Tech:
“Foreigner investors are attracted to firms with a digital-oriented business model. Yet this is not enough to attract capital. Investors are seduced by the certainty that new technologies will translate into products and services that eventually garner significant revenues”.
Massimo Della Ragione knows all about it. Professor of Practice at Bocconi and co-head of Goldman Sachs Italy, he is in charge of D-Tech, the hub of Bocconi 4 Innovation dedicated to advanced technologies with industrial applications: science computing, robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber security, blockchain, virtual reality. “D-Tech will not accelerate startup companies whose technologies simply improve a process, such as an app that allows you to book restaurants. We are interested in technologies proposed by teams that feature at least one Bocconi alumnus, or an alumnus of a Bocconi partner, and that combine significant social impact and high commercial potential. Our goal is to ensure that these technologies are translated into successful business activities and to prepare teams to meet investors”. To do so, the program will focus on the most important stage of a startup: the acceleration. If we compare the entrepreneurial ideas in technology and the major stages of human life, D-Tech will take care of their adolescence and accompany them until adulthood. “In this crucial stage we can provide management training and nurture entrepreneurial spirit. We want to create a virtuous circle in which technological advances improve people’s lives, create jobs and fuel innovation. We give discipline to entrepreneurial ideas. Is there a better place than Bocconi to do it?”.
Gabriella Lojacono (Made in Italy):
The emergence of competitors from new countries and the unstable international regulatory framework could undermine the future performance of Made in Italy companies. In fact, it is already happening. Until 2003, for example, Italy was the main exporting country in the furniture sector. According to UN Comtrade data, in 2017 Italy ended up behind China and Germany and could soon be overtaken by Poland.
“Our companies often fail to identify effective distribution channels and have trouble in understanding the trends in the market”, says Gabriella Lojacono, Associate professor of International Management, director of the Executive Master in Luxury Management at SDA Bocconi and head of the Made in Italy hub of Bocconi 4 Innovation. “A healthy economic system has to be powered by ongoing innovation of products and business models. Even companies that today represent Made in Italy in the world may be at risk. Feeding the system with new and dynamic ideas favors renewal and innovation. It is our duty to feed this long-term turnover by identifying promising business areas and ideas. In this ever changing scenario, B4I will help creating new global champions”.
The idea is to create niche companies that will eventually grow up. The Made in Italy mark evokes fashion, food and B2C. The accelerator will also deal with B2B (mechanics and cosmetics) as well as sectors that are often not mentioned such as pharmaceuticals and eyewear. “Made in Italy means passion, know-how, connection to the territory, culture of beauty, desire to dominate unexplored niches. As a professor, I see students with brilliant ideas and the will to put them into practice. This year, for instance, they have explored new formats in the food sector. Their wealth of ideas gives me hope for the future. B4I must scout for excellence and put the Bocconi expertise and network at their service”.
Stefano Pogutz (sustainability):
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of European cities recently in large climate demonstrations. The German government has announced a Green New Deal. Christine Lagarde called climate change a pressing challenge for the European Central Bank. We are living the transition to a greener and more sustainable economy that requires the development of new solutions, technologies and business models.
The Sustainability hub of Bocconi 4 Innovation, led by Stefano Pogutz, professor of Green Management and Corporate Sustainability, will act in this scenario. The hub will move along two main lines: green economy and social entrepreneurship. “Using, transporting and storing new energy sources will be crucial”, professor Pogutz says. “Supply networks will be rethought to deal with intermittent renewable energy sources. Car batteries will storage energy and then eventually return it to the grid”. New opportunities will arise from sharing mobility, low impact materials, new solutions for circular economy especially in industrial waste processing and recycling.
“Innovative startups firms will facilitate the transition to more informed purchasing decisions through reward systems and supply chain traceability”. The hub is also interested in social entrepreneurship in health, inclusion and education. Even finance is moving towards responsible investments and impact investing. “Our hub will help entrepreneurs gain new skills. It will support them in product analysis tailored to market specificities and sustainability metrics. It will help in the recruitment of new employees and facilitate the access to sustainability-oriented investors”.
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