The Innovation Debate

Date: 02 November 2023

Location: Campus Biotech, Geneva


02 November 2023 – Campus Biotech – doors open at 17:30

Organized by the Center for Innovation & Partnerships and the Geneva Innovation Movement, co-hosted by INSEAD’s Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society. 

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Organizations across sectors set up their innovative initiatives with varying goals, yet they all struggle with the age-old question of how to maintain them – inside or outside? Should my innovative initiative, innovation team, or new idea remain structurally part of the organization or should we spin it off as a stand-alone entity to preserve its creativity, grant autonomy, de-couple from day-to-day operations? What are the ties that then bind the two together and how strong or loose should these be? What are best practices for innovation teams and initiatives today, particularly in large organizations that often struggle to innovate?

Introducing an annual series hosted by the Center for Innovation & Partnerships at GSEM and the Geneva Innovation Movement, this unprecedented event in Geneva asks four high-level managers from large public and private sector organizations leading innovative initiatives to debate the key elements of these questions. Their respective initiatives have been documented in detail by researchers at the University of Geneva and INSEAD in cases accessible online. Renowned experts on innovation will frame the discussion and facilitate the debate to extract actionable insights.

The Format: Managers debate!

This debate is designed to spur discussion around controversial ideas. Our panel of outstanding global managers will exchange arguments and opinions in a heated and interactive setting as they try to convince the audience of their positions for and against the motion:

“Innovative initiatives that originate in large organizations ought to be retained within the overall structure of the organization itself.”

Speaking for the motion: Cynthia Hansen (Innovation Foundation – The Adecco Group) and Massimo Gentile (Genève Airport)

Speaking against the motion: Pradeep Kakkattil (HIEx – UNAIDS) and Susanne Emonet (Farmer Connect – Sucafina)

The evening will be moderated by Prof. Dr. Tina Ambos, with input from Prof Dr. Felipe Monteiro (INSEAD), Prof. Dr. Gilbert Probst(UNIGE) and Ass. Prof. Dr. Katherine Tatarinov (UNIL)

We will close the evening with an opportunity to network with refreshments. 





The Initiatives: Innovations born out of Large Public and Private Organizations

The Innovation Foundation (previously the Adecco Group Foundation) born at the Adecco Group: The Innovation Foundation is an initiative launched by the Adecco Group – Fortune Global 500 company and global leader in talent advisory and solutions. Initially envisioned as a philanthropic body to manage the global social projects of the firm, the Foundation has now transformed into a Social Innovation Lab. It leverages the vast know-how of the firm to create innovative solutions to increase the employability and access to labor markets for underserved populations.

Cynthia Hansen, Managing Director of the Foundation, joined the Adecco Group in 2017 to start the Foundation and spearhead social innovation. Her areas of expertise include strategy, change management, social impact and partnerships. Prior to joining the Adecco Group, she spent nine years at the World Economic Forum, in leadership roles across Strategic Partnerships, Professional Services, Financial Services, Civil Society, and Content Strategy.


Gèneve Airport Innovation born at the Geneva Airport: To address the issues of rising competition and lack of physical space into which to grow (given the urban nature of the airports location), there was a strong need at Geneva Airport to focus on new innovative strategies and approaches. In an era where technology was becoming more widely available, the Geneva Airport was one of the first airports in Europe to formalize its Innovation Unit in 2013 under the lead of CTO Massimo Gentile. The team was initially tasked with improving organizational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Today the team is increasingly working on permeating innovation throughout the airports various functions and across its ecosystem partners.

Massimo Gentile, CTO of the Geneve airport, started at the Airport in 2007 with a very small team. Prior to joining the Geneva Airport, Massimo’s background was mainly technical with a strong focus on computer science including a PhD in Computer science from EPFL. His previous experience was in consulting specifically multi-disciplinary teams.


The Health Innovation Exchange (HIEx) born at UNAIDS: The Office of Innovation at UNAIDS (a joint UN programme established in 1996 with the task to end AIDS) launched HIEx in 2019 as a platform to help healthcare innovation start-ups connect with decision-makers, investors, communities, international organizations and implementers. In 2023, the platform was spun off from UNAIDS to become a stand-alone association. Now an independent organization, HIEx functions as a multilayered platform, connecting countries and systems, identifying their health-specific priorities or challenges, and working to ensure that investments are channeled to support high-potential innovations for health that help countries move towards impact for the SDGs, particularly in the global South.

Pradeep Kakkattil, the Co-founder and CEO of HIEx, has been a changemaker in health and development over the last three decades. He serves on the Advisory Boards of the Graduate Institute in Geneva and is a founding member of the Board of the Geneva Innovation Network. He was the recipient of the Schwab Foundation/WEF Public Intrapreneur 2022 award.


Farmer Connect born at Sucafina: Sucafina, a Swiss-based global leading company in sustainable “farm to roaster” coffee, launched Farmer Connect in 2019. This blockchain-based end-to-end transparent solution for the coffee trading industry was a great success, disrupting the entire industry, creating value through innovation and generating positive social impact. It was quickly established as an independent tech-solution start-up to serve the food and agriculture sector by increasing traceability in the supply chain, while retaining close ties to Sucafina.

Susanne Emonet, CEO at Farmer Connect. She has worked with leading edge technology for all her career, covering different industries from mobility, via medical to cross vertical digital security, always focusing on tangible impact.​ Susanne has more than 15 years of experience in marketing, business development, innovation and strategy in organizations ranging from 40 to 400.000 employees.​ In her role as CEO of Farmer Connect, she is proud to be part of a team that enables traceability as base for responsible action, accountability and impact all the way from the farmer to the consumer