Sustainable Innovation: what is it, why it’s important

Sustainable Innovation

Sustainable Innovation at the Sustainability Ambassador Program of PG’s Sustainability Academy: what are we talking about, exactly?


Consistently with its corporate commitment towards ESG topics, summed up in the Climate Change Ambition and the Social Ambition defined during 2021, Prysmian Group has launched the Global Sustainability Academy, an initiative addressed to the Group’s over 30.000 employees in 50 countries and inaugurated last January in Muscat, Oman - the headquarters of the Group’s MEAT Region.

What is Prysmian Group’s Global Sustainability Academy?

In partnership with leading international business schools - such as POLIMI Graduate School of Management and SDA Bocconi - the Global Sustainability Academy is aimed at spreading a culture of sustainability among the whole corporate population, as well as at further strengthening the Group’s commitment towards employees’ engagement and upskilling, in line with Prysmian Group’s human capital strategy.

The programme of the Academy is structured in five macro-modules - awareness, knowledge, impact, leadership and KPI - each of which deals with one or multiple strategic topics related to sustainability. Depending on the in-depth level these topics are dealt with, the modules are addressed to different target groups.

The Sustainability Ambassador Program in Milano HQ

More specifically, the Sustainability Ambassador Program that has just taken place (22nd-23rd March) in Milano HQ in partnership with POLIMI Graduate School of Management faced the topics of sustainable development and sustainability priorities, with a deep dive on sustainability-driven innovation. Given the depth of the analysis - a hybrid formula consisting of both classes and group work - the training addressed the Sustainability Ambassadors of the Group’s Regions, in order to give them concrete tools to deal with sustainability topics in their specific countries.

“To develop the leaders of the future we believe that fostering and upgrading sustainability know how and competence is extremely relevant. The sustainability of our market leadership for us implies also integrating and cascading sustainability at all levels of our organization.”

Maria Cristina Bifulco

Chief Sustainability Officer and Group IR VP

“Sustainability Ambassadors play a key role in every organization in embedding sustainability within an organization and promoting a sustainability-oriented culture. They work to amplify companywide efforts at local level, highlighting the links between sustainability and core business processes and stimulating sustainability-oriented innovation”

Paolo Maccarrone

Scientific Director of the (Sustainability Ambassador) Program, POLIMI Graduate School of Management

What is Sustainable Innovation: a definition

As mentioned above, sustainability-driven innovation has been the core topic of the Global Sustainability Academy’s Ambassador Program held in Milano. But what do we mean by it?

Sustainable innovation can be defined as the process of creating and implementing new products, services, technologies and business models not only in order to generate economic value, but also to actively contribute to environmental preservation, social progress and long-term sustainability, aiming at promoting sustainable development and responsible business practice in accordance with ESG principles.

Sustainability as the key driver of Innovation

Sustainability-oriented innovation is lately receiving increased focus worldwide, as sustainability is increasingly identified as a key driver of innovation for companies and thus taking a central role in business. The reason why sustainability is now considered the backbone of innovation is easy to understand: given the current global conditions, we can no longer talk about innovation without taking into consideration the concept of sustainability.

In line with this, sustainability-driven innovation aims to address the pressing global challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, biodiversity loss, social inequality, and poverty by developing innovative solutions that promote environmental, social, and economic sustainability. This goal is the characteristic that distinguishes this kind of innovation from other types of innovation processes, which - especially in the past - have usually been focused on economic growth without considering multidimensional targets (i.e. environmental and social impacts).

Sustainable innovation and sustainable development are therefore two closely related concepts, since both, to quote the World Commission on Environment and Development, aim at meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations” , reconciling economic development with the protection of social and environmental balance.

Sustainability and Innovation in Prysmian Group

Innovation is, and will always be, the keystone on which Prysmian Group’s operations rely. Via sustainability and innovation, the Group’s R&D is heavily committed to finding new solutions, materials and processes that bring benefits. In fact, being an enabler of energy transition and digitalization means having the ability to innovate constantly, which is why innovation is the driver that defines and underpins all the Group’s social and environmental goals.

Innovation and sustainability are inextricably bound together, requiring Prysmian to adopt a holistic and integrated approach: the efforts made to innovate strengthen the commitment to reach the long-term targets set. Sustainability is already embedded in the creation of value for customers, making it tangible and visible, via the development of innovative and green solutions2.

Prysmian Group’s commitment towards Innovation in numbers

  • 114 million euros invested in R&D
  • About 5800 patents covering the main innovations
  • 26 research centres
  • 250 product families launched in 2022
  • 50 collaborations with research centers and universities
  • 1,000 professionals


1.World Commission on Environment and Development - Brundtland report Our Common Future, 1987.
2.Sustainability Report 2022, Prysmian Group.