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. 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.

Research programmes

The Leonardo Centre has developed a number of multidisciplinary and collaborative research programmes using its relationship with research centres within Imperial College and the GOLDEN community.

Each research programme builds and expands on the digital datasets of the impact of sustainability initiatives on financial performance and stakeholder perception.

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The research programmes address a variety of fundamental questions related to the transition toward sustainable and inclusive business models.

Some examples include:

  • Which models of governance optimise both financial performance and stakeholder satisfaction?
  • What are the most effective approaches to leadership development and cultural change?
  • How can the interests of stakeholders be incorporated into corporate and functional strategy?
  • What are the most effective paths to integrate stakeholder interests in the company’s control and incentive systems?
  • How to create product, process and business innovation systems, capable of adapting to the interests and needs of all key stakeholder groups?

Leonardo Co-Laboratories

The Centre Co-Laboratories operate as a global cross-disciplinary cooperative platform, bringing together experts from academia, business and policy. They enable the participants to share, co-design and assess the impact of sustainability orientated business models.

The aim of the Co-Laboratories is to help senior executives rethink the purpose and role of their companies, supporting them through a series of thematic workshops as part of a three-year programme. 

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Co-Laboratories take into account:

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

How the workshops are structured:

Pre-workshop participation: all participants are expected to share their own experiences. Academic experts then help with the assessment of past initiatives using 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 shares insights from the impact assessment of their prior experiences under the Chatham House Rule.
  • Co-creation: participants and experts draw conclusions and develop innovative solutions to the challenge.

After the workshop:

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

Transformative journey 

Our researchers have developed an innovative methodology combining business, academic and stakeholder insight with organisational change and experimentation.

This approach builds on the evidence provided by the digital dataset and connects with the innovative ideas and action plans developed through the
Co-Laboratories on specific social and environmental sustainability goals. 

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The programmes are characterised 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 approaches to organisational change.

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

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

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

Change Actions:  Building a portfolio of action through experimental designs for organisations inside each business function/market.


Innovative pilot projects 

To facilitate the transition towards higher levels of sustainability, the Leonardo Centre works with businesses and public organisations to help rethink their purpose, processes and strategies towards the creation of social, environmental, as well as 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.

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Pilot 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.

The Leonardo Centre puts thought into action using several experimental designs for organisations in order to study the impact of stakeholder-orientated change at the core of business.

Areas of application, which have been piloted in different sectors and countries, include leadership development, integrated strategy, incentive and control systems, and supply chains.

The Centre researchers are synthesising the financial and sustainability impact of different forms of business activity, from M&A-driven growth, to organisational change and stakeholder engagement strategies. 

Our pilot projects in action