A hub for global knowledge

The Leonardo Centre acts as a collaborative hub between 14 research centres and institutes at Imperial College London which each specialise in a field related to environmental and social sustainability. Additionally, the Centre coordinates the research activity of a global community of scholars, research centres, companies and institutions connected through the GOLDEN Impact Network.

Synergies among the networks of Imperial College and GOLDEN enable the Leonardo Centre to create an innovative cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional laboratory for experimentation in alternative forms of business enterprise.


Our mission and strategy

The Centre’s mission is to tackle the two big challenges currently faced by business and the world at large: environmental and social regeneration.

  1. Environmental regeneration, including climate change risk reduction, net zero emission and use of resources.
  2. Social regeneration, including the enhancement of physical and psychological well-being, as well as of social integration and fair treatment of consumers, employees and citizens int he communities in which they operate,

To achieve this goal, the Centre is running several research programmes, divided into five areas: purpose and governance; leadership and culture; business model innovation; corporate and functional strategies; and control and incentive systems.

  1. Purpose and Governance. Introducing new, integrative models of governance, involving representatives of value chain partners, employees and communities.
  2. Leadership and Culture. Identifying and scaling the best leadership models and shared values to drive transformational change towards flourishing socio-economic systems.
  3. Business Model Innovation. Designing innovative platforms to generate insights from combining technological solutions and stakeholders' contributions.
  4. Corporate and Functional Strategies. Integrating stakeholders' capabilities and perspectives to enhance the quality of corporate as well as functional strategies.
  5. Control and Incentive Systems. Redesigning HR processes, incentives and internal accounting procedures to embed the metrics and targets related to the grand challenges.

Our Projects

Research Programs

Leonardo has developed a number of multidisciplinary and collaborative research programs leveraging the networks of collaborations with Research Centres within Imperial College and within the GOLDEN community.

Additionally, each research program builds and expands on the digital datasets of sustainability initiatives’ impact on financial performance and stakeholder perception.

These programs address a variety of fundamental research questions related to the transition toward sustainable and inclusive models of the business enterprise. They are all linked to business evolution streams shaping the research agenda.

Some examples include:

  • What are the models of governance that optimize both financial performance and stakeholder satisfaction, given the industry and institutional context?
  • What are the most effective leadership development and cultural change approaches to centre the organization on stakeholder value creation?
  • How can the interests of stakeholders be fully embedded in the content and process of corporate and functional strategy?
  • What are the most effective evolutionary paths to integrate stakeholder interests in the company’s control and incentive systems?
  • How to create product, process and business innovation systems, at the firm and ecosystem levels, capable to adapt to the evolution of interests and needs by all the key groups of stakeholders?

Leonardo Co-Lab

The Co-Laboratories operate as a global cross-disciplinary cooperative platform, bringing together experts from academia, business and policy to share, co-design and assess the generative impacts of alternative models of enterprise, for individual, organizational and societal well-being.

The aim of the Leonardo Co-Lab is, thus, to help senior executives re-think the purpose and role of their  company, supporting the charting of a transformational journey through a series of thematic workshops along a three year programme. Themes will be collectively selected by participants and academics.

Co-lab design: co-labs can be designed along four main logics:

  1. Journey focus
  2. Sector focus across SDGs
  3. SDG focus across sectors
  4. Geography (city, region, country) focus cross sector, cross SDGs

Workshop format: each workshop will be designed according to a general format:

Pre-workshop participation: all participants are expected to share their own experience on the topic at end. To this end academic experts help the assessment of past initiatives with cutting edge methodologies.

During the workshop:

  • External inputs: global thought leaders share evidence and insights on the theme of the day
  • Internal inputs: each participant share insights from the impact assessment of their prior experiences under Chatham house rules.
  • Co-creation: participants and experts draw conclusions from shared collective wisdom and develop innovative solutions to the challenge at end.

After the workshop:

  • Participants have the option to engage experts in deep dives to validate, tailor and eventually experiment the potential solutions at the workshops
  • Key stakeholders are engaged to provide constructive feedback on the insights emerged from the workshop

This is a pre-competitive experience, facilitating collaboration among members of the Co-Labs, for the benefit of all by generating economic, social and environmental value.

Innovation Pilots

To facilitate the transition towards higher levels of system sustainability, the Leonardo Centre works with business and public organisations to help rethink their purpose, processes and strategies towards the creation of social and environmental value in addition to economic value.

Leonardo leverages cross-disciplinary knowledge and the most advanced scientific methodologies to design, implement, and measure the effectiveness of change initiatives within organisations willing to progress in this evolutionary journey.

Change projects are co-designed with organisational stakeholders and thought-leaders in the various fields of management, finance, engineering, environmental science, design, and neuroscience to deliver the highest impact.

Building on sound scientific knowledge and in line with stakeholders’ aspirations: pilot projects are designed and implemented in the areas of governance, strategy, control and incentive systems, leadership and culture, marketing and sales, and operations and supply chain.

Experiential Learning

Leonardo’s researchers developed a highly innovative methodology integrating knowledge co-creation (business-academia-stakeholders) with organizational change and field experimentation design.

This methodology leverages the global evidence on the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives for economic and non economic performance. Moreover it also builds on the insights and action plans developed through Co-Lab on specific social and environmental sustainability goals.

The programs are characterized by the following features:

Expected Impact: A new generation of conscious leaders capable of steering systemic transformational change toward global sustainability and well-being.

Learning objectives: Understand the logic, the benefits and the challenges, assess the status quo on stakeholders’ satisfaction and integrated value creation, develop science based experiments to test the effectiveness of organizational change approaches.

Transformational experience: Experience a collective journey with peers and stakeholders to redesign the purpose of the enterprise and implement change actions.

Adaptive design: Integrated approach with residential and on the job experience, experimentation inside the organization and with stakeholders.

Cross disciplinary bridges: Combining technology foresight, mindset development/collective consciousness, neuroscience, AI models for data driven decisions, design thinking. 

Change Actions:  Building evidence based portfolio of change actions through rigorous design organisational experiments inside each business function/market.