Food Sustainability

Work Team


The Food Sustainability Observatory is a new project established by the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano, and was launched after solid research work conducted over recent years on the topics of reducing food waste and innovation for sustainability. The Observatory intends to contribute practically to transforming the food supply chain into a sustainable undertaking and, through its research and initiatives, make the outside world aware of these issues and spread its findings, while placing innovation at the centre of its actions. The Observatory also wishes to help companies move from undertaking “isolated” cases of technological innovation to a system-wide process of innovation involving business models and processes, within each single company and throughout the entire industry, to create shared value along the supply chain and in society as a whole.

The Observatory has the end objective of closely analysing best practice in innovation for sustainability, to become the standard bearer and mouthpiece in this field. It will concentrate on the areas involving the reduction in food waste, promotion of shared prosperity along the supply chain and safeguard of regional and typical products and local traditions in food and food culture, working in tight collaboration with all industrial food companies, the associations of the sector, non-profit organisations, start-ups and public bodies.


The Observatory's planned actions for 2017-2018 are as follows:

  • Research Work::
    • Empirical Research, conducted through interviews and case studies and by surveying and mapping innovative start-ups, nationally and internationally, etc., together with the preparation of models to pursue objectives of sustainability and evaluate the relative implications for the actors in the food supply chain.
    • A Kick-off Workshop open to companies and other interested bodies, with the end purpose of identifying the main topics of interest and sharing additional thoughts and suggestions.
    • Three Workshops reserved for Observatory partners and sponsors, where the aim is to share the intermediate findings of the research and compare experiences and successful cases.
    • A Booklet Report, which is a paper report containing the main findings of our research and will be distributed during the convention.
    • Vertical Reports published digitally, which cover the individual topics covered in depth.
  • Actions to disseminate and spread awareness about the research results::
    • A public convention to present the main findings of our research, with round table sessions and talks given by our partners, sponsors and other key players from the food sustainability world.
    • Join in public events across the country of national and international significance, to share the “vertical” results of our research, present cases of success and take part in round table discussions with the interested Observatory partners.
    • Spread the research findings through the media (via, for example, newspaper articles and interviews on radio and television), to spread a culture of innovation for sustainable food, disseminating the outcomes of the research, sharing best practice in sustainable innovation and broadcasting awareness among companies, decision-makers and the general public.


Within the scope of our 2017-2018 research, the Observatory will study the following topics in detail:

  • Best Practice and Innovative Business Models for Sustainability
    Among the main aims of the Observatory are to map and closely analyse innovative practices and business models for sustainability within the food system, with particular focus on reducing food waste, sharing prosperity along the supply chain and protecting typical regional products and local tradition.
    Among the innovative practice and business models considered are:
    • Models of collaboration among various stakeholders (consolidated companies, SMEs, the service sector and social enterprises and start-ups).
    • New short supply chain models and the promotion of local produce.
    • New processes and products that belong to the circular economy.
    • Sustainable packaging.
    • Best practice in informing the outside world about responsible consumption.
    • New and entirely sustainable business models.
    • Methods for measuring impact.
    • ...
    The research methods utilised include a methodical analysis of secondary sources (local and international press, sector-related websites and scientific literature); interviews and in-depth studies of interesting cases; workshops with partners and sponsors of the Observatory; work carried out by start-ups operating in Artificial Intelligence (surveys and organised analyses of Italian and international start-ups).
  • Food Waste Reduction
    The Observatory’s objective is to map and carry out an in-depth analyse of innovative practices and business models to reduce food waste.
    Among the innovative practice and business models to reduce food waste considered are:
    • Models for re-using and re-distributing excess produce.
    • How to manage primary sector produce excess.
    • Other options for evaluating excess food and waste.
    The research methods utilised include a methodical analysis of secondary sources; interviews and close investigation into interesting study cases; workshops with Observatory partners and sponsors; pilot trials to develop models and practice methods of high social impact to be used across the Italian territory and/or internationally; work carried out by start-ups operating in artificial intelligence.

Sponsorship opportunities

Every year more than 300 companies join the Digital Innovation Observatories activities, getting in touch with the corporate, institutional and academic decision makers

More details

Partners and Sponsors

If you would like to find out more about getting involved, collaborating and/or supporting research by the Food Sustainability Observatory, please contact Giulia Bartezzaghi (email: gbartezzaghi@mip.polimi.it).