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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, social and/or economic 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.

Strategy

Our mission and strategy

Our mission is to explore and experiment with the transition to sustainable and inclusive logics of enterprise.

The Centre aims 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 in the communities in which they operate,

The Centre runs research programmes, in interconnected areas, which contribute to business evolution for societal impact at individual, organisational and systemic level. 

  1. Cultural change. Identifying and developing effective leadership and mindset models, and creating stakeholder-oriented innovation, learning and change capabilities.
  2. Policy re-design. Designing appropriate incentive and control systems to facilitate the transition towards human-centred enterprise logic.
  3. Stakeholder wellbeing. Integrating stakeholder interests and voices into governance and value chain decision making.
  4. Economic performance. Amalgamating ESG principles with economic performance targets.
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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?
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Leonardo Co-Laboratories

Co-Laboratories are a global cross-disciplinary cooperative platform, bringing together experts from academia, business and policy, through thematic workshops and experimentation within organisations. They enable the participants to explore, share, co-design and assess solutions to rethink the logic of the enterprise across all its key dimensions. 

Co-Laboratories are created to help leaders rethink the purpose and value creation of their enterprise, and to provide support through a series of thematic workshops. A three-year programme ensures meaningful exploration and experimentation with novel forms of action on key strategic challenges related to the transition towards a stakeholder-centred enterprise logic.

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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

Workshops:

Pre-workshop

  • Baseline assessment of the impacts of the company's sustainability initiatives, related to the selected theme. Assessment is made on the basis of frontier assessment methodologies as well as comparative analysis of similar initiatives in the global digital dataset created by the Leonardo Centre and the GOLDEN Foundation. Analysis will leverage the estimates of impacts of each type of initiative on the company’s financial performance and stakeholder perception and will result in a map of strategic priorities of interventions.
  • Stakeholder consultation, relevant to the specific theme, to collect evaluation of past initiatives and expectations in terms of future company initiatives on that theme.

Workshop

  • Ideation and Design. Each participant shares key lessons learned from the analysis of the company’s past initiatives, as well as the indications collected from relevant stakeholders. Highly qualified researchers share the results of analyses related to the financial and sustainability performance impacts and will bring some cases of best practices related to the selected theme. This will be the basis for a collective ideation effort to develop innovative approaches to tackle the issues related to the theme and to design possible organisational pilots (experiments) to rigorously test the validity of the novel approaches.

Post workshop

  • Experimentation. The phase following the workshop can vary depending on the strategic priorities of participant companies.
  • The expectation is that each participant will leverage this opportunity to design and launch a number of novel initiatives, either related to one of the best practices identified or connected to the innovative approaches which emerged through the collective ideation process.
  • Impact Assessment. A second workshop will be organised, when a sufficient number of partners are ready to share experiences of the pilot projects, and researchers will share the results of the impact analyses.
  • Scale. The most successful pilot initiatives will then be scaled across the organisations that completed the experiments. Scaling (successful but local) innovation presents its own challenges, and co-lab partners will strengthen each other’s capacity to tackle the challenges through the collective sharing and learning processes
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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.

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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