About The Program

The Italia Innovation Program is a fully-immersive learning experience where a group of selected undergraduate and graduate students meet Italian companies, leaders in the Made in Italy business sectors, to lead the innovation of their business and productive models.
These companies are representative of the Italian excellence and believe in the possibility of learning from young entrepreneurial minds how to combine their heritage of quality and beauty with a deeper understanding of the consumer in order to gain an even stronger competitive edge in the contemporary global marketplace.
The participants have a very diverse background forming a truly interdisciplinary class with a wide range of skills, approaches and previous entrepreneurial experiences, all interested in the future of Italian industries.
Over the month, participants work in teams on the resolution of a real innovation challenge and receive the mentorship of a unique team of experts and professors, as well as Italian entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Company visits, inspirational talks and hands-on seminars foster the industry understanding and boost the project works. The sprint methodology and the design thinking process are the main tools for a deeper understanding of business challenges, as well as methods for structuring the teamwork to come up with meaningful ideas while fostering the participants creative confidence.

I think it’s fabulous to have students and participants from all over the world combined on teams together.
I’m a big believer in the benefit of multidisciplinary teams having lots of perspectives from lots of different points of view and that can be both functional points fo view but also world view. Everybody views the world and these challenges a little bit differently so it’s fascinating to see how these teams work together to come up with innovative solutions to challenges.
— David Schonthal, Professor at Kellogg School of Management and Business Designer at IDEO

The Approach

MAKE A REAL IMPACT
Italian companies challenge the participants to boost their business development with creative ideas. 
In their work on the innovation project, participants receive the mentorship of outstanding professors and business leaders that help them reframe and solve the challenges with a holistic perspective and a user-centered focus, to make a real impact on the Italian companies.

COLLABORATE, RADICALLY
We believe that a cross-disciplinary and international perspective is the key ingredient to solve complex issues by creating global and long-term solutions. Participants are divided in multidisciplinary project teams and work together in an open learning environment designed to foster challenging discussion, new ways of thinking and extensive collaborative interaction.

DEVELOP NEW SKILLS
The program leverages innovative approaches and cutting-edge practices combining the knowledge and skills of faculty from top-tier international Universities and Italian entrepreneurs and business leaders. Inspirational talks enrich the experience and stimulate innovation boosting the development of the project works.

EXPLORE AND DISCOVER
The challenger companies welcome participants to their headquarters to unveil the secrets of the value creation and show the quality-centric production processes, allowing a deeper understanding of the challenges they are facing and providing a special insight on the Italian business landscape.

LEARN FROM THE MASTERS
Italian entrepreneurs and c-level managers share their experience and informally meet the participants to engage in a dialogue that is valuable to both. Participants also interact on an on-going basis with c-level management of their partner company.

The Experience

I think when you’re young, every experience where you can immerse yourself in something is the most powerful life lesson. Here you can spend a month in another culture, working in a specific industry and a problem. It’s gonna change your life and you’re gonna remember it forever. And you’ll never know what lessons will apply when, but it will. So I think it’s the same with these experiences: you never know where it’s gonna lead, but that immersion experience will change people’s lives.
— Ron Johnson, Enjoy Inc. CEO and former Apple SVP for Retail Operations

KEVIN BANOS - PARSONS SCHOOL OF DESIGN

VANESSA MORGAN - NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

CAROLINE DE SANTIS - GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

ADELINE DIAMOND - RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN

MORITZ DIEDERICHSEN - HERTIE SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT

JENNIFER WESTER - YALE UNIVERSITY

SUHAIB AHMED - ROTMAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT

ALEXA GANTOUS - PARSONS SCHOOL OF DESIGN

MACKENZIE GRAY - UPENN

NICHOLAS LEE - UPENN

KRISTIN CHESNUTT - STANFORD UNIVERSITY

EDEN ZEILO - HARVARD SCHOOL OF BUSINESS