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Licensing STrategy Open Call
milano Innovation District

A licensing strategy proposal to consolidate the activities and brand outputs of MIND (a smart district) & to create a greater sense of belonging in residents.


Details of the Open Call Competition

Floating map of MIND


Milano Innovation District (MIND) aspires to be a smart district; an ecosystem that encourages collaboration between different entities, ‘public anchors’ and the world of academics, training and research institutes, companies, start-ups, incubators and accelerators. There is a need to consolidate these independent activities and establish trust in the community through MIND’s brand and licensing outputs.

To prepare for the coexistence of almost 60,000 people is the core concern of this licensing strategy proposal.


Strategic Design


3 Weeks

The Call

With this Call, they asked us to imagine and design ideas aimed at defining a Licensing Strategy for MIND Milano Innovation District to:

Apart from designing the strategy, we would also have to:


The scale of the district is huge with multiple projects being parallely completed. However, since some areas are under-construction and undeveloped, there is no comprehensive sense of the MIND brand.

The key concern is to bring together a coherent picture of the project for residents, and first and second-degree connections. In this way, the target audience of this initiative is key.

Thus we reframed the problem...
How might we make Milano Innovation District (MIND) a space that values Belonging & Community?  


Kasturi Roy
Margherita Gianni
Martina Semenza
Eugene Yamanashi
Fabio Besti (Facilitator)


User Persona, Competitor Benchmarking, Value Maps, Golden Circle, Moodboards & Identikit


MIND solution: MIND of your own and sub brands, mind space, master mind and mind @ease

Building a Community through 3 Sub-Brands

The output MIND Of Your Own, proposes directions in the fields of lifestyle, events and community activities, that can elevate the quality of life for residents and first degree connections within MIND. MIND Of Your Own targets a key population that is already aware of MIND’s exemplary qualities and solidifies this trust.

  • MindSpace is a physical entity & social space where people can engage with friends, food and books throughout the day
  • MasterMIND is an events-property created for all online and offline meet-ups, seminars, conferences and hackathons with themes of education, research, and innovation
  • MIND@Ease is a community-driven experience property focussed on hobby classes and fun workshops to facilitate collaboration and up-skilling through doing


An award badge in green

This project was extremely well recieved by the brand and we were invited to present our findings and solution to all of the residents and companies at MIND.

The Director of MIND Milano Innovation District awarded our team the first position along with a cash prize of 5000 EUR.

read details


Approach, Tools & Methodology


The most challenging aspect of the MIND project was the scale and timeline (10 years into the future). Thus, any licensing activity needed to be tied into the value system of the district. However, since the district is far from being completed, we didn't yet have a sense of what those values might be.

Secondly, it is our belief that to avoid getting overwhelmed by said scale, we would need to zoom in to individual needs and opportunities. Then, we could zoom out and scale those at a macro-level for an entire smart district.


Licensing Research & IPR Contracts
Brand Development
Partner Scouting
Strategic Design & PSSD
Visualisation & Mockups

Planned activities, including reserach methodologies and refine

Strategy Overview

Post our initial research, which included the Competitor Benchmarking and Value Map, we realised that we would need to take a more macrocosmic viewpoint towards the whole project. And so I built an overall strategic and systemic flowchart of things to do, to demarcate the scope of work.

Systemic chart of action plan

Systemic Organisation of Factors: How did this help?

  • It helped us quantify the amount of research and systhesis that needed to be done within a 3-week period
  • It helped us prioritise, which was interesting, because we didn't focus too much on the actual merchandise, but more on aligning partnerships along value-systems


Primary & Secondary Research

To find the right target audience, mapping all possible users across time and scale is the first step. What are the pains and gains? How can needs and opportunities be derived from the same? Thus, a typical user’s journey, touchpoints and personality characteristics can help pinpoint some strategic directions. Phase I (till 2025) stands out because of the completion of key projects. Thus, a user persona mapping allows for gauging activities and touchpoints of current employees in MIND.

Users & Audience

Timeline breakup of the project

Zooming in to understand a specific audience group i.e. doctors and researchers, we ideated the user persona map with lots of details about the pains and gains of the user. This was to understand what kind of licensing opportunities lie tied to these needs.

User Persona of Marco, a researcher

Once the touchpoints have been identified, it is necessary to zoom out and move from an individual to a broader perspective. Then, pains and gains are prioritised on the basis of behaviour and psychology rather than demography. They are also extended to other key groups such as students, doctors, staff & residents.‍

Pains and gains of the user


Opportunities such as  Belonging and community

The main value that we arrived at was that of Belonging and Community. Only if a person feels that they are part of a bigger picture, will they be inclined to associate with licensed products. In fact, they will be proud to purchase and own a bit of this community.

Project pillars such as Social Spaces, Sustainability and conferences

Brand & Sub-Brands

MIND Of Your Own is upheld by three important values: Belonging, Regeneration and Progress. As a burgeoning innovation district, MIND needs to keep its people at the core of all new initiatives. Thus, people-centricity, understanding needs, and building a community is the highest priority. So, encouraging a sense of belonging is key. 

MIND is a space that upholds regeneration through sustainable, local and natural initiatives, with a heightened focus on its heritage and environmental impact. MIND is a forward-looking and forward-thinking giant. Lastly, the core value of innovation and progress is defined through its vision, ambition to create wonders and responsibility towards research and its ethical use. In conclusion, MIND Of Your Own proposes outputs that encourage these three values in varying degrees.

A floating group of cards with brand logos

Product Service System

Output 1

MINDSpace is a physical entity and a social spacewhere people can engage with friends, food and books throughout the day. It is a place for intellectual conversations and unwinding after a busy work-day.

  • MINDSpace brings together resident sand learners at a cafe cum bookstore space. A place for sparkling conversations and sociability
  • Partners: Moleskine, LaFeltrinelli, Esselunga etc.
  • Channels: Section of curated books by MIND, MIND stationery, co-branded pop-up space
Mockup and visualisation of the output Mindspace
Partner Option: La feltrinelli RED

Output 2

MasterMIND is an event-property created for all online and offline events, seminars, conferences and workshops that are held under the umbrella of MIND. The themes of the events are more education, research and innovation oriented.

  • Creating an events-property focussing on technology, science and innovation. A way for people to engage with a subject in an interesting and educational way
  • Partners: TED Talks, Discovery+, Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, etc.
  • Channels: Physical events and digital shows
Mockup and visualisation of the output MasterMind
Partner Option_ TED Talks and Discovery Plus

Output 3

MIND@Ease is a community-driven experience property focussed on entertaining activities, hobby classes and fun workshops to facilitate belonging, collaboration and up-skilling through doing.

  • Community workshops that focus on entertaining and fun hobbies like cooking, gardening, gymming etc.
  • Partners: Milano Marathon, Airbnb, Technogym etc.
  • Channels: Section of curated books by MIND, MIND stationery, co-branded pop-up space
Mockup and visualisation of the output Mind @Ease
Patner Options_ Milano Marathon and Airbnb

Revenue Opportunities

Revenue Options for each sub brand

What I Learnt

Some key insights

1. zOOMING iN & oUT

The right kind of research is always important. However, to choose to take a step back and rethink all the material from the perspective of the problem is crucial. By adjusting the requirements of the call to one persona and then transposing it to all potential customer touchpoints, was a tough job. There were many different kinds of directions proposed, however, by aligning each direction to the core value (Belonging and Community), we were able to produce some award-winning results (!).

A floating mockup of all the research


The thing about open calls is that there is minimal to no client feedback. Thus, whatever solution we propose has to be modular enough to satisfy a broad category of problems. Of course, at many points we disagreed amongst ourselves regarding the scope of the project. In the end, I firmly decided to focus more on the strategy and value-alignment of the proposal rather than just the product-market fit and visualisation of the brand.

This reframing from a licensing & brand strategy proposal to a  Mission-Vision-Value proposition allowed us to come up with a range of solutions instead of a few merchandising ideas. I also brushed up on my photoshop and editorial skills as well as presented the final pitch during this time-frame.

3. A new Field

Understanding brand partnerships, IPR contracts, and the different kinds of licensing MOUs was a new learning curve for me. I took immense pleasure in researching this field because of the sheer amount of possibilities. It was exciting to think how simple or complex a partnership could be, or how innovative or fun a potential PSSD could be. And of course, how it would evolve over time.

This Explore vs Exploit mindset was instilled in my practice during this project, and for that I am thankful.

Market reserach of Van Gogh Museum Licensing outputs

Licensing MArket Research


Mistakes & Next Steps

1. Incorporate Feedback

If we were to continue working on this project, I would take a look at the feedback we received from our facilitator. Deepening the possible partnerships and leveraging MIND's scientific know-how would definitely be on the list of jobs to be done.

Feedback from professor, a quote

2. Improve Storytelling

This proposal consists of many different aspects and has not one but three possible outputs under an umbrella brand. I believe the biggest takeaway for me is to further smoothen the storytelling since the many outputs and opportunities complicate the final effect.

This project really helped me hone my skills in core strategy design and secondary research. I believe given more time, (and budgets), if implemented, this project could be really something wonderful for the good folks at MIND. So here's looking to the future. Until then, feel free to look through my other projects! :)

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