News Story

Quick Thinking Impresses at Italia Innovation Workshop

Through the combined efforts of Georgetown College’s Italian Research Institute and the Italia Innovation Program, 32 students from across Georgetown’s undergraduate schools participated in an exciting entrepreneurship workshop with two major Italian corporations last month.

The students were separated into groups of four and tasked with formulating solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing each company. Eni S.p.A., Italy’s largest oil and gas company, asked its students to develop renewable energy initiatives in compliance with the COP21 Paris Agreement; Illycaffé, a major multinational coffee producer, sought rebranding suggestions. Judges and advisors included Italian Research Institute Director Sara Hager, McDonough School of Business professor Arthur Dong and senior officials from the participating corporations.

Prizes included espresso machines, paid summer internships and cash. The students had less than six hours to complete the task.

“They came back with incredible presentations, especially given that they only had a few hours,” Hager said.

The winning Eni group came up with an innovative, multi-pronged proposal to promote clean energy through the responsible optimization of natural gas resources and solar cells.

The winning Illy group went as far as designing a new logo — one unlikely to be used by the company, but an impressive piece of a rebranding workshop nonetheless — as well as a global marketing strategy complete with designs for market growth into China, historically not a major coffee consumer.

“They were excited to put not only their analytical skills, but also their creative skills, to work,” Hager said. “We were happy to give the students this opportunity.”

Georgetown was the latest in a series of Italia Innovation Program events at American universities — Stanford University, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have all hosted similar workshops recently.

The workshop is not the end of Georgetown’s relationship with Italia Innovation. Five students who participated in the workshop applied to attend the Italia Innovation Summer Program in Italy, and two were awarded the John A. Hager Memorial Fellowship, donated and named by John Hadjipateras.

The Fellowships were awarded to Caroline DeSantis (C’16) and Neil Filosa (C’18). The Italia Innovation Program is partnering with the Italia Institute to offer partial tuition scholarships to the students. The fellowship and the reduced tuition allows the two to live in Italy and participate in the Italia Innovation summer program.

Members of the entrepreneurship workshop’s winning groups were as follows:

Costanza Concetti (F’17)
Maximilian Fiege (F’18)
Ahmet Caskurlu (F’17)
Lauren Tucci (F’17)

Maximilian Funke (F’17)
Morgan Kennedy (F’17)
Renzo Reyes (B’18)
Hasaan Munim (C’18)


The Georgetown University Italian Research Institute, housed in the College, was established in December 2013 to promote, identify, facilitate, and support the advancement of contemporary cutting-edge Italian research in medicine, the sciences, technology, environment, engineering, international affairs, finance, industry, the arts, design, literature, and film.

The John A. Hager Memorial Fellowship was made possible through the generosity of John Hadjipateras, a member of the Italian Research Institute, and his wife Darcy. Mr. & Mrs. Hadjipateras are the parents of Alex (C’01) Marina (C’05), Peter (C’12) and Costas (C’16).

Italia Innovation Program is an initiative aimed at making the world interested in the innovation of the Italian economy, leading research and managing projects to develop the business and productive models of iconic brands in the fields of fashion, food & wine, design, arts & culture and high-end manufacturing.

— Patrick Curran