Andrea Illy wins 2019 Leonardo Prize

illycaffè Chairman Andrea Illy has been awarded the 2019 Leonardo Prize in recognition of his significant contribution to the promotion of Italy’s image abroad.

The prize was awarded by a panel of qualified jurors, and is part of the wider 2019 Leonardo Awards. Due to COVID-19, these awards were halted in 2020.

“Illy has always focused his commitment along two key vectors: sustainability as corporate culture and in favour of the coffee and agricultural sectors; and Made in Italy as a symbol of excellence to increase the country’s competitiveness,” says illycaffè.

“Illy was awarded for his work as an entrepreneur, as a staunch supporter of the stakeholder company and of corporate responsibility in building a better society.”

Defined as a “human chemist”, the company’s says Illy led illycaffè’s internationalisation while continuing to innovate its processes and culture in the “quest for quality”. Today, the brand is recognised for its sustainable practices and support of culture and contemporary art, which is has made accessible through its illy Art Collection espresso cups.

Between 2013 and 2019, Illy was an ambassador of ‘Made in Italy’ during his time as President of the Altagamma Foundation. Through his book Italia Felix, Illy further promoted Italy’s wealth and talents.

“I am honoured to have received this very important recognition, which is very gratifying and encourages me even more to cultivate my dream of a society that cares for the well-being of people and for the preservation of the environment,” says Andrea Illy, President of illycaffè.

“What makes ‘Made in Italy’ goods excellent – which is beautiful, good, and well-made – goes hand-in-hand with building a sustainable business model that can generate value for the present and preserve it for future generations. Through our work at illycaffè I will redouble my efforts to promote Italy’s image around the world.”

Illy believes that happiness is a prerequisite for any transition towards a sustainable and regenerative socio-economic model. As a result, he moved illycaffè to adopt a benefit corporation status in 2019.

Together with the Ernesto Illy Foundation, which Illy also founded, and thanks to important public and private partnerships across local and international institutions, illycaffè supports numerous coffee community development projects that also increase sustainable value chains in coffee producing countries.

“These activities are the concrete implementation of illycaffè’s philosophy and strategy, and indeed, in 2021 it was the first Italian coffee company to obtain B-Corp certification,” says illycaffè.

Named a scholar and an expert in climate change, in 2018 Illy developed a model of ‘virtuous agriculture’ that reduces atmospheric carbon, using it to create organic matter to enrich soil and grow healthy produce.

The awards ceremony for the 2019 Leonardo Prize took place in Rome, in the presence of the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella. The Leonardo Awards began in 1993, driven by the Leonardo Committee in hopes to strengthen and spread the image of the Italian experience around the world.

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