Webinars on innovation in times of crisis


The School of Innovation of the University of Trento organized a series of webinars on the consequences of the pandemic.

May 7 – June 18, 2020 – online

Crises generate economic losses and cause serious difficulties for companies. However, crises are also powerful engines of innovation because they push the system to find novel solutions, using creativity and determination. Therefore, the School of Innovation organised this series of webinars in order to identify the best tools that can be used for the post-Covid-19 restart.

The biweekly meetings with experts were held on the Youtube channel of the Department of Economics and Management and were moderated by prof. Sandro Trento, the director of the School of Innovation.


Thursday 7 May

How a pandemic can help citizens get closer to science

with Roberto Caso (jurist and open access expert, University of Trento)

Link to the Youtube page of the event


It is believed that science is the only resource we have to win the battle against the new coronavirus. Moreover, it is often pointed out that we could have been more prepared for a threat that had been feared for some time. Not only has this global emergency been caused by our lifestyle, but also because something has not worked in science as well as in its interaction with society and its institutions. If we really want a better science, we must rebuild the foundations of the communication setup. In other words, we need to prioritise cooperation over competition. Openness essentially means this. More sharing and solidarity. The most important political objectives are “detoxifying” science from the “poison” of competition for excellence, investing large public resources in science on a global scale and restricting intellectual property rights.

Tuesday 12 May

Nudging and persuasion in public policies

with Marianna Baggio (policy analyst at the European Commission)

Link to the Youtube page of the event


Epidemic risk management is by itself a highly complex task, where sets of measures need to be put in place and coordinated at local, national and international levels in order to minimise health and economic consequences. This complex and monumental task does not benefit from panic or extreme worry among citizens; this should be controlled and reduced as much as possible. One helpful set of tools are “behavioural insights”, a collection of contributions from various disciplines of behavioural sciences (such as behavioural economics, social and cognitive psychology and anthropology), that can be used to inform public policy.

When it comes to economics, in cases such as outbreaks of coronavirus, individuals balance the perceived benefits from making contact against the perceived cost of the disease and this affects transmission rates. The behaviour of some can expedite the disease’s spread, while the actions of others can slow epidemics. Once we acknowledge the power of individual behaviour in epidemics taking behavioural insights into account will not be a choice but a necessity.

Thursday 14 May

Lessons from Formula 1: How to guide businesses out of the emergency

with Paolo Aversa (economist, strategy and innovation expert, CASS Business School London)

Link to the Youtube page of the event


Firms compete in ever changing environments. Markets are increasingly more dynamic and volatile. New technologies continuously disrupt industry standards, and interconnectedness turns local phenomena into global megatrends, while regulations sometimes limit, sometimes boost technological breakthroughs.

Prof. Aversa’s awarded studies in the hypercompetitive world of Formula 1 identify a set of observable factors that can reveal timely lessons that are applicable across different industries and competitive settings. These factors suggest the importance of combining an analysis of both internal aspects within the organisation, as well as the environmental aspects in the competition. According to Paolo Aversa,  in the contexts of rapid changes, an incremental innovation strategy can be more effective than a radical innovation strategy. Changing gradually a model is less risky and allows you to increase your knowledge of the peculiarities of the new context. In Formula 1 experienced this in a year of major regulatory changes (2009) when the Brawn GP decided to focus on its aerodynamic skills and gave up experimenting with a radical innovation (the KERS hybrid system) thus succeeding to have better results than its competitors- despite being a young team with fewer resources. During great changes in competitive environments, both the internal aspects of the organization and the surrounding factors become crucial. In order to adequately respond, the magnitude, the frequency and the predictability of changes have to be taken into account.

Tuesday 19 May

Back to business: how the pandemic innovates the business model in companies

with Alessandro Rossi (Professor of Economics and Business Management, University of Trento)

Link to the Youtube page of the event


In order to overcome a crisis, companies need more awareness of the short-term and long-term consequences of the pandemic shock on the demand and their traditional value proposition for customers. If we observe the reaction to the crisis, many of the interventions concerned the aspects of value delivery (think of the so-called business continuity). However, a more long-term oriented approach to the crisis management has also to rethink the methods of value creation and value capture (and the interdependencies between these three areas). Many examples that are described as “organizational resilience” hide, on closer inspection, merely reactive approaches to the crisis, based on a logic of normalization (“business as usual”). To develop the ability to face today’s situation and future shocks, this is not enough: companies must equip themselves with skills and organizational mechanisms for anticipation and anti-fragility, which would help them maintain high performance even in the contexts of high uncertainty.

Thursday 21 May

The reorganization of the supply chain in the context of a pandemic

with Marco Formentini (professor of Sustainable Supply Chain Management, DISI, University of Trento)

Link to the Youtube page of the event


The health emergency caused by the new coronavirus has had a strong global impact on the supply chains. The companies have faced an unprecedented disruption, with strong repercussions on the various links of the supply chain (a real “chain reaction”), and consequently an uncertain future. This talk discusses the main problems caused by the pandemic, and future developments for supply chain management in terms of risk management, development and adoption of new managerial paradigms, and the implications related to sustainability ‘and digital transformation.

Tuesday 26 May

Invitalia startup tools

with Susanna Zuccarini (Financial analyst, Invitalia)

Link to the Youtube page of the event

With 48 active partners and more than 70 events, Invitalia Startup System – the network of financial instruments and services for the creation and development of innovative companies- in just two years has become a robust structure that is constantly growing. Invitalia Startup System aims to improve the quality of investment opportunities towards Invitalia and to offer a number of services to facilitate access to incentives in different phases, such as support in the submission of applications for funding, the creation of connections with incubators, accelerators, Business Angel associations, Venture Capitalists and other actors specialized in the support for innovative and social impact businesses. Over 500 startups have participated in one-to-one meetings with Invitalia experts to receive methodological support for submitting the application.

Thursday 28 May

How do digital communities generate social innovation and economic sustainability?

with Francesco Rullani (professor of innovation and management, Ca ‘Foscari University of Venice)

Link to the Youtube page of the event

The talk focuses on the digital transformation that we have experienced in this period and that has involved citizens, businesses and institutions in new digital communities. There are three changes that we need to highlight. The lockdown caused many businesses to shut down and severely limited mobility. Work, school and spare time activities have necessarily moved from the physical to the digital dimension. Another great change was the increase in participation and the desire to feel united, because we were all facing a problem that is bigger than any single individual. Consequently, we have tried to gather to build something together in order to face the common “enemy”. The third major change that we have observed due to the impact of the pandemic has been innovation since the world in which we were thrown was completely new, and therefore it was necessary to adapt. Imagining solutions, solving new problems, and consequently innovating has become the way to face each day. This was how the process of Digital Social Innovation has started. This process can continue beyond the pandemic, but only if we know how to invest in what we learned during the lockdown in a careful, strategic and inclusive way.

Thursday 4 June

How will healthcare spending in Trentino change after Covid 19?

with Alessio Scopa (General Manager, Sanifonds)

Link to the Youtube page of the event


Alessio Scopa has provided some selected data processed by the research office of Sanifonds Trentino (provincial health fund with over 60,000 members). The Sanifonds database, based on its firsthand data, can provide complementary data to the public health system since it possesses information on private health consumption, which is usually not taken into consideration by public decision makers. This is particularly important in the post-Covid phase, which will be characterized by a probable conflict between the increase in health needs and the scarcity of financial resources available to respond to them. More generally, Sanifonds, the first Italian territorial supplementary fund,  seems to show how integrative healthcare can be a key partner in the integration of the public health system.

Wednesday 10 June

Covid-19: real surprise or predictable pandemic? Reflections on the past and future of new emerging viruses

with Anna Cereseto (professor of microbiology, CIBIO, University of Trento)

Link to the Youtube page of the event


The Covid19 emergency has no boundaries as other pandemics caused by viruses that do not know geographical limits or even species limits. The biology of viruses is dictated by a rule: viruses must always be one step ahead of their guests, including humans. In order to ensure their survival, viruses move continuously changing their genetic heritage in order to transform and escape from the defense of new hosts. This is how Sars-CoV2 was born as well as many other viruses in the past and new viruses that will arrive. But what are environmental and social factors that can condition the emergence of new pandemics? And what are our weapons to prepare for pandemics and respond strategically to new viruses?

Thursday 11 June

Pandemics, socio-health services and health protection: limits and opportunities

with Giampaolo Armellin (CBA Group researcher)

Link to the Youtube page of the event


Talking about innovation or digital transformation in health services can mean many things: artificial intelligence to support diagnostics, augmented reality in surgery, automation for the administration of drug therapies, just to give some examples. However, it is important to shift attention from hospitals and explore Long term Care (LTC).  LTC involves a variety of long-term services to provide care and assistance to those suffering from chronic diseases or disabilities.  LTC is based on individualized and coordinated care and assistance, provided for a long period, with the aim to maximize the independence and the life quality of the person (and his family, relatives). The current Covid-19 emergency has strongly and dramatically highlighted the limits of the Italian LTC system in terms of coordination, territorial management and, above all, taking into consideration demographic trends.

Tuesday 16 June

Food, agriculture, environment and a new mindset, necessary ingredients to restore the balance between the man and nature

with Sara Roversi (founder of the Future Food Institute)

Link to the Youtube page of the event


In post-industrial and globalized societies, the digital revolution has taken control of our lives, and has imposed new social paradigms. However, the “lockdown” has offered us the opportunity to re-learn to understand the value of nutrition and to re-connect with food, with those who produce it, with those who distribute it, with those who transform it and those who share it with us. Besides its primary role in nourishment, food is also a vehicle of values, culture, symbols and identity. Although eating is an essential act in human life, it requires awareness, especially in times of emergency such as the one we are experiencing. This situation has highlighted the human essential needs, reshuffling the priorities and bringing agriculture and the ecosystem protection to the fore. Thus, environment, agriculture and food have returned to the center of human life.

Thursday June 18

How to reconcile surveillance and privacy during a pandemic?

with Simonetta Vezzoso (jurist, expert in law and technology, University of Trento)


We are experiencing the first pandemic of the digital age. Contact tracing solutions to combat Coronavirus have been widely used and implemented in many parts of the world in the wake of an ever-expanding surveillance regime. The issues of tracking platforms, health surveillance, the security of personal health data are just some of the topics widely debated in Italy and elsewhere. What are the privacy implications of the technology response to Covid-19? What are the risks of a “digital addiction” in the pandemic fight? And how can we guarantee privacy and rights and at the same time use technology to combat Coronavirus? The monitoring of the epidemiological trend or reconstructing the progress of the infections needs to be limited within a frame beyond which any processing of personal data would be disproportionate.


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