Course 2023-2024 a.y.


Cross-institutional study L. Bocconi - Politecnico Milano

Course taught in English

Class timetable
Exam timetable
Go to class group/s: 26
TS (6 credits - II sem. - OB  |  ING-IND/35)
Course Director:

Classes: 26 (II sem.)

Synchronous Blended: Lessons in synchronous mode in the classroom (for a maximum of one hour per credit in remote mode)

Mission & Content Summary


The course aims at providing the knowledge and understanding about sustainability oriented design and innovation as a process for designing and developing new products, processes, services, business models and systems, leveraging the use of new technologies through a “human centered” perspective, contributing to the improvement of people and communities well-being while respecting the worlds’ natural resources and their regenerative capacity. Students will understand the different dimensions and types of sustainability oriented innovations and their drivers; they will understand the processes, the actors, the design tools and the collaboration approaches to be used in sustainability oriented innovation. The course, characterized by an active learning approach and the principles of the “hands-on” methodologies, will enable students to apply the relevant methodologies and tools to design and develop sustainable products, processes, services, business models and systems. Moreover, instruments and measurement logics will be provided to assess the impact of sustainability oriented innovations on the relevant sustainability dimensions. Specific attention will be dedicated to design for sustainability approaches, including Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and frugal innovation, design thinking for circularity, user centered innovation and social innovation.


The course is structured into three main parts:


Part 1 focuses on theoretical pillars – this part aims to fix the main pillars of sustainable oriented innovation and design paradigms as Design Thinking, Design Thinking for circular solutions, Frugal Innovation, User Centered Design, Social Innovation


Part 2 focuses on the case analysis. Through various testimonies of managers and entrepreneurs, real case studies of companies and startups that have made sustainable oriented innovation the source of their competitive advantage will be illustrated


Part 3 focuses on the Project work development where students will be challenged by a company brief to apply constructs, tools and processes to redesign the company business model (product-service, user engagement, revenues/cost structure, partners, channel and retailers) in a more circular and sustainable mode.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Identify the main types of and approaches to different sustainability oriented innovation and design
  • Interpret the societal and technology changes to be leveraged by companies in order to implement a sustainable and circular innovation and design approach
  • Grasp the systemic and holistic dimensions of the sustainability oriented innovation and design applied by real business


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Apply principles and tools to design new sustainable solutions and business models
  • Manage the entire process of sustainability oriented innovation from the vision generation to the pre-competitive analysis
  • Assess the impact of the new solutions/business models according to the more relevant sustainability dimensions

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Group assignments


  •  Cases will be discussed to identify theoretical concepts from real-life situations. Students are expected to read the assigned cases and materials before the related sessions to engage in an active in-class discussion.
  • In addition to face-to-face lectures, case studies, and interactive class activities, we expect to have guest speakers who will deliver a direct experience on the main issues they faced when dealing with entrepreneurship and sustainability.
  • A project work will be developed by teams of students. The project work will be aimed at developing the concept of a sustainability oriented innovation starting from the brief provided by a partner company or start up.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Oral individual exam
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)


To obtain the attending status, students will be required to form groups to:

- discuss cases inherent sustainability oriented innovation and design

- develop a project work assigned on the basis of a company brief.

In order to achieve the learning outcomes and measure their acquisition by students:

- Class attendance is strongly recommended; students are expected to actively participate to the case discussion. This aims to test the student’s ability to interact and think critically, applying the concepts presented throughout the course. Actinve participation will not be formally evaluated but will constitute the basis for the individual assessment in the final exam.

- an oral exam to critically discuss the theoretical concepts will be held.

The individual assessment based on the oral exam accounts for the 40% of the final grade.

- A project work will be developed to assess the ability to apply constructs and design tools and to manage the overall design/innovation process to design/redesign a new solutions/business models characterized by higher sustainability and circularity degrees.

The project work accounts for 60% of the final grade.


Assessment of not attending students is entirely based on a final written exam. The exam probes the student’s understanding of the concepts inherent to sustainability oriented innovation and design and the student’s ability to critically apply the main tools to specific cases that aim to change their solutions/business models toward a more sustainable and circular approach.

Teaching materials


  • Cases on library course reserve.
  • Course Slides.
  • Collection of articles.
  • Template and canvas for Project work development

Suggested reading:

  • Bocken, N., Ritala, P., Albareda, L., & Verburg, R. (Eds.). (2019). Innovation for Sustainability: Business Transformations Towards a Better World. Springer.
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