Smart Innovation 2021-2022: the capstone project

SMART INNOVATION includes (1) capstone project activities (transversal to several courses), involving students and companies and (2) additional contents delivered online, complementing the frontal lessons of the Degree Course.

SMART INNOVATION is a proposal of the course “Progettazione e sviluppo di prodotti e servizi smart e analisi strategica data-driven” (“Design and development of smart products and services and strategic analysis – 12 CFU), II year of Master Degree in Management Engineering (curriculum Digital Product Innovation). 


value added of the project

The added value of SMART INNOVATION is given by the following elements:

      • industrial ecosystem: SMART INNOVATION involves Italian companies (Sfera Agricola, Scapigliato, Serrall), and Competences Centers  (Centro di Competenza Regionale per l’Economia Circolare e Distretto Tecnologico Advanced Manufacturing).
      • dual function: SMART INNOVATION bridges business world and academic context, indeed capstone projects are powered by real projects, promoted by companies and focused on real business needs, and during the year students have the possibility to visit the companies.
      • international perspective: SMART INNOVATION involves international experts of Strategy Tools in the workshop Transform”, hybrid project, planned in presence and online for the insights by European experts.
      • additional skills: the 2 cycles of webinars (for a total of 20 hours) provide students with additional content complementary to the course.
      • final certificate: at the end of plenary session, in presence of teachers and stakeholders, the teams will gain a certificate of attendance


SMART INNOVATION aims to enhance the hard and soft skills of students who are about to enter the world of work by combining a capstone project activity, which involves companies, with the online delivery of complementary and additional content to the frontal teaching of the course.

In addition, thanks to the involvement of multiple actors (Competence Centres, local companies, partners of the digital skill alliance ASSETs, sector experts, lecturers from other universities), the conditions are created for developing research projects and proposing theses on emerging issues.

The Capstone Project Activity involves teams of students in the design of a new product/service/process in a real business context. The activities include strategic foresight analysis (with reference to the identification of weak signals and the development of future scenarios), and the analysis of the explore-exploit portfolio of the company where the new product/service/process will be implemented.

The teams will interact with companies and universities and will be supported by tutors, i.e., researchers from university and professionals from the involved companies. Moreover, each team during the two semesters of the Academic year will visit the involved companies.

In the Academic year 2021-2022 the capstone projects regards:

Smart Agritech 

Sfera Agricola Srl is the biggest technological hydroponic greenhouse in Italy (13 hectares) for the sustainable cultivation of tomatoes, lettuce and aromatic herbs. The structure is located in the province of Grosseto. It is more a spacecraft than a greenhouse. The Team is called to design and develop a new product/service/process focused on germinators. Germinators are useful to recreate an environment that can promote seed germination.  The project can be intended as a new business (a new venture) that could interest Sfera Agricola (i.e. corporate intrapreneurship) or as a new start-up.

Circular economy 4.0

Scapigliato Srl is a company working in close collaboration and coordination with the Municipality of Rosignano Marittimo (in the province of Livorno). It manages the Scapigliato Plant Pole, a recovery plant for waste management in the Municipality of Cecina. Scapigliato also maintains the Public Green in the Municipality of Rosignano Marittimo. The team is called to re-design a process of Scapigliato business context towards  the vision Factory 4.0.

Data-driven modular design 

Serrall Srl is a company in Perugia dedicated to the design and the development of aluminum and PVC windows for traditional and modular building. The company creates tailor-made solutions, customizing the product in terms of shape, performance and color, according to customer needs. The team is called to design and develop a new product/service/process, within the business context of SerralL, leveraging on data analysis, with the purpose to realize a data driven modular design.


The capstone project activity is aligned with the educational and training content, divided in 7 modules. In particular, the plan of the modules define the timeline for the deliverables of the projects. The deliverables are intended as a draft. In fact, each deliverable will be revised by the professors of the course. The revision is both a learning activity and an opportunity for discussion. Indeed, it is part of the assessment process and allows a direct exchange among students and teachers to monitor, measure and improve the learning process. The interim deliverables set the pace of the process and let the students include feedback in the following version of the deliverables. Then the final assessment will focus on the final version of the project, delivered by each team at the end of the second semester.




Future Scenarios and New Opportunities (Strategic Foresight)

15 November 2021

The output of this phase is the identification of new business opportunities. Those will be deployed in possible future scenarios and weak signals.

Feasibility Study

13 December 2021

The output of this step is the analysis of the technical, economic, financial, and managerial feasibility of the opportunity previously identified, with the purpose to decide which scenario to follow.

Concept Design: Technical Requirements

28 February 2022

This phase focuses on the identification of technical requirements of the product/service/process to satisfy the stakeholders’ needs.

Concept Design: Concepts and Models

31 March 2022

The output of this phase is the comparison among different models and concepts of the product/service/process to identify which best fits with the stakeholders’ needs.

Failures Analysis

01 May 2022

This phase focuses on possible failures of the product/service/process. The output describes the failures identification and analysis, and the actions to mitigate or avoid the risks associated with the failures. 

Explore-Exploit analysis of the business portfolio

31 May 2022

This phase is dedicated to strategic analysis. The output of this phase regards the analysis of the strategic implications derived by adding the product/service/process in the business portfolio.

Final plenary presentation

15 June 2022

The output includes the slides, the final report and the oral exposition in plenary session with companies and stakeholders.


The teams will present their projects in a plenary session with companies and stakeholders. Then, there will be a discussion session with teachers and professionals. At the end of each presentation, both teachers and professionals will assess the teams.  At the end of the activity students will receive a certificate of attendance. Several seminars with experts and one workshop are planned to support students with additional content. Those activities are included in the plan of the course.

The workshop is designed in collaboration among the teachers and the experts of Strategy Tools (Norway). It encompasses the following activities: a simulation, realized in presence, where students will be in an immersive real context and will play different roles; debriefing moments to compare simulation and theoretical lessons; in-depth studies and analysis with the experts.



  1. The research laboratory Business Engineering for Data Science (B4DS) –, founded by the professors, includes PhD students and researchers belonging to the DESTeC (Department of Energy, Systems, Territory and Construction Engineering and DII (Department of Information Engineering). The B4DS lab plans in-depth activities, in online mode, through the 2 cycles of webinars (about 20 hours in total):
  • The cycle “Text Mining for Literature Review” aims to give students from Degree courses and PhD courses AI tools and methods for supporting the analysis of scientific and technical knowledge, including scientific papers, reports, patents, blogs. These knowledge sources are becoming more and more important in the wave of digitalization, especially in management engineering. Students participating in the course will use the software RStudio, installed on their own PC, and the packages Tidyverse ( e Gephi 
  • The webinar cycle “ENG4GED” brings together academics, industrial experts and students for discussing strategies, approaches and applications of novel practices that bridges Data Science and Engineering within the fields of Green, Education and Defence.