Innovation Generation: Bulgari Awards Its Inaugural Swiss Genius Prize
The Roman luxury house aims to promote entrepreneurship with a new student prize.
As a brand, Bulgari believes in innovation. Whether the brand is creating record-breaking, ultra-thin watches or opening schools to promote and pass on time-honored jewelry-making skills, the 136-year-old brand is all about taking its know-how to the next level.
In February 2022, the Italian jeweler launched Swiss Genius, a student prize designed to reward innovation in corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Let’s take a look at this innovative competition.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
In partnership with the Luxury Tribune and the Swiss Center for Luxury Research, this contest is open to students at Swiss business schools currently pursuing a master’s degree. The goal is to get the managers of tomorrow to embrace the ideas of CSR, which helps companies self-regulate and be socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public.
Also known as corporate citizenship, the practice encourages businesses to be conscious of the impact they have on all aspects of society, whether cultural, economic, social, or environmental.
Bulgari has long been a leader in promoting CSR as a successful, sustainable strategy for luxury brands. Along with fostering an inclusive company culture for its employees, the company has provided financial aid during natural disasters while funding ongoing initiatives focusing on art, sustainability, the environment, and education.
Most notably, Bulgari also has a long-term partnership with Save the Children that has raised nearly $100 million since it began in 2009. And when COVID-19 struck, Bulgari quickly pivoted and joined the global fight against the pandemic, reconfiguring its fragrance factory to produce 800,000 bottles of sanitizing gel for medical professionals.
At the time, Bulgari’s CEO, Jean-Christophe Babin, told Forbes, “The fact that we were not donating money, but we were donating our people and our work…created incredible motivation at a time when many people had many reasons to be concerned.”
Corporate social responsibility is at the heart of Bulgari’s development strategy, and CSR plays a key role in its daily operations. Still, the Roman maison recognizes that for the company to stay nimble, it must promote CSR outside its offices and factories.
With the launch of the Swiss Genius innovation award, Bulgari aims to challenge future generations, the managers of tomorrow, to embrace its mission of innovation and sustainability with innovative new entrepreneurial approaches. And that’s where this competition comes in.
The first edition of this award takes place in Switzerland, which took the title of most innovative country in 2021 by scoring the best in all seven indicators used to compile a ranking published by the EU Commission. The country’s strengths are in research systems, human resources, and intellectual assets.
The contest, the winners of were announced on Monday, July 4th, was open to students pursuing their master’s studies from selected Swiss universities – Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne, HEC Lausanne, University of St. Gall, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, and Università della Svizzera Italiana – who are pursuing their master’s in 2022.
The project focused on the following six themes: Supply Chain/Sourcing, Sustainability, Product (or related), Branding and Communication, Human Resources, and Philanthropy. Each entry must present an original solution through the lens of CSR-focused development and design.
These projects were then presented to a jury composed of renowned stakeholders in the fields of sustainability and the luxury industry. These jurors include Frank Bodin, the founder of the Bodin Group; Cristina D’Agostino, Editor-in-Chief of Luxury Tribune; Felicitas Morhart, Founder of the Swiss Center for Luxury Research; Eleonora Rizzuto, CSR Director at Bulgari and LVMH Italia; and Jelena Tasic, Managing Director at LifestyleTech Competence Center.
“Since the pandemic, new requirements have emerged, mainly those of preparing future generations to train technically and qualitatively for these challenges,” said Rizzuto. “Bulgari Swiss Genius, in collaboration with the Swiss Center for Luxury Research, is an interesting example of common thought processes. It is an opportunity for Bulgari to show students the length of our sustainable approach, as it is today one of the first selection criteria for young talents looking to start their career.”
The Swiss Genius Innovation Award is more than just a feel-good opportunity for Bulgari. It is meant to develop long-term sustainability strategies within the global luxury industry as a whole.
Each year, the winning team will be invited to Bulgari’s HQ in Rome to present their project to the Global CSR team and get a full tour of Bulgari’s workshops and offices. Plus, all pre-selected students will have the opportunity to submit their application for a three-month paid internship within the CSR team in Rome and have their resumes carefully reviewed by Bulgari HR to facilitate their possible recruitment.
“I am very enthusiastic about this project,” said Rizzuto. “It perfectly embodies the strategic vision of the brand.”
Congratulations to team “TRILOGY” for winning the Swiss Genius 2022 innovation award! The members of “TRILOGY” - Camilla Cappellini, Arianna Pittaluga and Ewa Węgrzyn - are all students Università della Svizzera Italiana and studying for their Master’s in Digital Fashion Communication. And the winnning project focused on the topic of: “Communication practices and Customer engagement to innovate CSR.”
(Front image © Bulgari)