Journey to Universities among Circular Economy and Sustainability

A journey through the partnerships with Italian universities in the field of social impact economy, sustainable urban regeneration and innovative and circular projects.

Training and research related to Circular Economy and Sustainability

The second stage of the Journey to the Universities goes through the main academic collaborations in the field of sustainability, innovation and new economic models unrelated to the exploitation of exhaustible natural resources which are the drivers that guide our idea of the circular economy.

Intesa Sanpaolo is at the forefront of sustainability, a commitment that has been also confirmed within the 2018-2021 Business Plan. A commitment that has resulted in many initiatives which value is supported by the various awards received, including the inclusion in important sustainability indices, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability (World and Europe) and the Climate Change A List 2019 of the Carbon Disclosure Project, which includes the 179 leading global companies for their commitment to the fight against climate change and for their strategy in favor of the environment. And also the 2021 ranking of Corporate Knights a Canadian research and rating company specialized in sustainability, confirmed Intesa Sanpaolo among the 100 most sustainable companies in the world.

From this perspective and because of the strong drive towards innovation arises the desire to further strengthen the commitment to the circular economy, the economic model that aims to free development from the exploitation of exhaustible natural resources and to redesign the industrial system. Intesa Sanpaolo, as a matter of fact, sees the circular economy as an innovative and strategic challenge that will bring important benefits globally and will represent an opportunity capable of creating new value and growth.
Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, the Group company dedicated to studying new business models and accelerating innovation throughout companies, oversees all activities carried out in the circular economy.

Circular and Impact Economy: partnerships with universities

There are many initiatives engaged in partnership with various Italian universities in the field of social impact economy, circular economy and finance, sustainable urban regeneration and support for innovative and circular projects.


University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

The University - multidisciplinary and open to innovation and change - is strongly committed to the frontiers of research and quality services for the business and institutional world. Several collaborations are active with the Catholic University.

Bachelor's Degree in Management for Sustainability

Master in Social Impact Economy & Management

A three-year degree, innovative in content and perspectives. A course designed by the Faculty of Economics and Law of Piacenza starting from the firm concept of sustainability that must inspire future decisions and actions in institutional, political, social and economic systems, and from the awareness of a growing need in the world of work, of new professionals dedicated to sustainability.
The course offers an experiential teaching that explores sustainability as an area of expertise and as an orientation driver in the assessment of the economic, social and environmental conditions in which business activities fit into.

Social impact economy

The merger with UBI has broadened the scope of initiatives, especially in the social impact economy area. This discipline now affects companies of any size increasingly attentive to sustainability, the circular economy, business development with a social and sustainable impact, as well as the welfare of their employees and territories and in general Corporate Social Responsibility.
The social impact economy also involves third sector companies and public administration bodies of any level, constituting a fertile ground for 360 ° innovation and for the creation of partnerships between business enterprises, non-profit and public organizations, of any both local and international dimension.

Master in Social Impact Economy & Management

The 1st level Master in Social Impact Economy & Management was launched in collaboration with the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the Brescia office. It tackles the issue of the social impact economy as a whole with a concrete approach, deepening the fundamental aspects of modern social entrepreneurship (profit and non-profit) and sustainable management. It will train contemporary entrepreneurs and managers who, within non-profit organizations and the public administration, aim to carry out business, projects and management models with a high impact in society.
The master is also aimed at entrepreneurs and managers who intend to deepen the topic to bring and develop welfare and community innovation initiatives for employees in their companies of origin.

ALTIS - Alta Scuola Impresa e Società - Executive Master in Social Entrepreneurship (EMSE)

EMSE - organized by ALTIS in collaboration with the Human Foundation - aims to increase the professional skills and the innovative power of entrepreneurs, managers and operators of non-profit organizations and companies that deal with social innovation and CSR.
Designed for those who already work or aim to operate in non-profit organizations and social enterprises, the Master accompanies entrepreneurs and managers of the Third Sector in improving the management of a social enterprise and in setting up and designing new areas of activity aimed at the creation of social start-ups. 

University Commerciale “Luigi Bocconi”

The "Luigi Bocconi" University supports the idea that training new citizens and professionals prepared to face complexity is the turning point to allow society and the country to overcome the global challenges we face. Various collaborations are also active with Bocconi University.

Research on the relationship between Circular Economy and Finance

It has been active since 2018 and sees the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center and Bocconi University engaged in the development of scientific research activities on issues related to the relationship between the Circular Economy and Finance.
In 2020, with the establishment of Bocconi's GREEN research center, began the line of research on circular, green and sustainable finance.
Still, the activity continues aiming to further refine the studies and the results achieved, especially in the context of the de-risking effect induced by the adoption of the circular economic paradigm, as well as launching new projects in continuity with them.

Laboratory on sustainable urban regeneration

The Research Lab, recently established with a focus on the thematic area of Sustainable Urban Regeneration, represents a unique opportunity to address, study and understand new frontier trends. Its mission is to develop and disseminate knowledge on sustainable urban regeneration processes to generate private and social value.

For this reason, the researchers are committed to analyzing and understanding the role of cities in global dynamics, starting from social, environmental and economic challenges to identify the key elements for starting a model of sustainable urban development.
The projects launched - in collaboration with the IMI Corporate Investment Banking Division - relate precisely to sustainable urban regeneration to be achieved with solutions based on an efficient use of natural resources, with high circularity and resilience and with a reduced impact on environmental matrices.

LIUC - Università Cattaneo

LIUC - Cattaneo University is strongly committed to keeping students and their social relationships at the center to bring out and develop skills and soft skills useful for directing their energies to achieve the desired objectives. With LIUC - Cattaneo University, the collaboration in the circular economy is realized with support for research "The transition of businesses to the circular economy: analysis of the implications in business processes and functions"                                                                                          
The research aims to deepen the transition to the circular economy with particular attention to the manufacturing sector and SMEs, and in some industrial sectors particularly interested from the point of view of the circular economy, such as food, clothing, automotive.                                                                                      
Researchers explore schemes and models that will allow SMEs to adopt and apply the fundamental principles of the circular economy to their business model, evaluating the effects on the value chain, as well as the operational risks to be managed in the transition to new business processes.

Another multi-university initiative on the cities of the future

With 70% of the population becoming urban by 2050, cities are the starting point for transforming the current economic and social system towards a circular model for a more sustainable, green and inclusive future. A challenge that requires innovative visions and solutions generated with the contribution of skills and experiences of many partners.

Hackathon “Hacking the City. Design a Circular future”

It is a hackathon launched by the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center Circular Economy Lab in collaboration with Tondo - an international non-profit organization operating in the circular economy sector and with Cariplo Factory, with the patronage of the Cariplo Foundation.
It has seen university students, recent graduates and doctoral students from all over Italy involved in the challenge of imagining the circular city of the future and designing innovative projects to make it happen. The participants come from the main Italian universities, which have granted the sponsorship.
The challenge was focused around eight macro-areas, within which specific challenges were defined with the involvement of industrial partners in the Building, Consumer Goods, Design, Digital, Energy, Food, Mobility, Waste sectors.                                     
In addition, in the role of tutor and mentor, other actors supported the young participants in the improvement of their projects: Professors, associates of Tondo, team of experts from the CE Lab and Cariplo Factory, members of the ASP (Alta Scuola Politecnica) Alumni Association and Global Shapers Turin.

Participating universities

Polytechnic of Bari, University of Bari, University of Bologna, University of Insubria, University of Genoa, ALMED (High School in Media, Communication and Entertainment), University of Naples Federico II, University of Pavia, University of Pisa, University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo, University of Siena, IUAV University of Venice and Ca 'Foscari University of Venice, Milan Polytechnic, Milan University, Turin Polytechnic, Turin University.

The circular economy is a radical innovation of the business models of companies, as well as a strategic driver for investments on the European agenda in the upcoming years. Thanks to initiatives such as Hacking the City we have the opportunity to redesign a circular urban context, capable of responding to the main economic, social and environmental challenges we are facing "- says Guido de Vecchi, General Manager of Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center

Spreading the culture of the circular economy

There are many other initiatives that see Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center and other Bank structures engaged in supporting training and advocacy in the Circular Economy area.

Workshops and circular lectures dedicated to managers and colleagues, such as the contribution to the Intesa Sanpaolo International Talent Program held in collaboration with the teachers of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano. And also, the contributions dedicated to the students of the BIOCIRCE Master "Bioeconomy in the Circular Economy" created in collaboration with the Universities of Turin, Milan Bicocca, Bologna, Naples Federico II and the Master in Digital Innovation, Business and Sustainability in Banks created in collaboration with the University of Salento.
And again, as part of the MBA organized by Oxford University and Said Business School, the presentation of case studies in the lectio of prof. Rupert Younger on CE Corporate Reputation & Leadership.
Or, the CRESTING project workshop organized by the G. d'Annunzio University of Pescara and the Circular Economy seminar held by the University of Tuscia in the Civitavecchia campus.
Finally, the advocacy activities include support in the drafting of the Circular Economy Report (2020 edition), produced by the Energy & Strategy Group of the Politecnico of Milan, focused on business models, technological solutions and the potential of the circular economy in our Country.
Many initiatives and many collaborations that explore the entire value chain of the bioeconomy from different angles and depths, seizing the opportunities and advantages of redesigning the phases of the production-commercial cycle to foster environmental, social and economic impacts.

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Intesa Sanpaolo for education

Here are some initiatives that we support to spread education and knowledge, guarantee the right to study and support research and businesses in the country