Interview with Andrea Fossa, Founder of GreenRouter, the Italian management tool for green logistics

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Andrea Fossa is the founder of GreenRouter, the first web-based management tool for measuring and managing the carbon footprint in the logistics sector (greenrouter.it). Andrea is also the Scientific Director of the Contract Logistics “Gino Marchet” Observatory at Politecnico di Milano. 

Before GreenRouter, Andrea worked as consultant at BCG and then founded his own company focused on strategic consulting and innovation in the supply chain. He graduated in Mechanical Engineer at Politecnico di Torino and received an M.B.A. from SDA Bocconi School of Management.

Q: You are an expert in logistics and supply chain, and in 2016 you decided it was the right time to start a new business. What opportunities did you see and how did the idea of GreenRouter come about?

Andrea: Until a few years ago, environmental performance reporting of big corporations was mainly focused on the climate impact of “direct operations” (plants, shops, offices, etc.), as the GHG Protocol required those as a basis for accounting. Thus, outsourced activities like logistics where often not included.

Recently, MNCs are requested to go beyond their initial scope, and logistics has grown in relevance – especially in some global and “fast” sectors like fashion, retail, and eCommerce. 

The idea behind GreenRouter is to allow proper measurement of CO2e emissions in the logistics field, and to support companies in their formal reporting, but also in the proper management of CO2e emissions over time. This means making CO2e a “line manager”’s affair, to be monitored and managed exactly in the same way as a service, cost or other operational parameters.

Q: There are different tools available on the market for measuring the CO2 emissions of a company, but Italian big players like Conad, Luxottica, GS1 Italy, Prysmian are using your tool. Why should a company choose GreenRouter, what distinctive features do you have?

Andrea: It is true, there are already tools on the market, especially on the measurement side. Our idea is to be a “managerial tool” that goes beyond reporting: in fact, we developed simulation tools, supply chain features which allocate emissions to delivery points, and other data analysis tools in general. We believe we have a strong position in the modelling of the supply chain, our tool allows to perform subsequent “what if” analyses and to develop improvement strategies to meet the required CO2 reduction targets. Also, user-friendliness is a key aspect for us, as managing “green logistics” involves competences in a complex set of areas, ranging from network design to energy, and from information technology to supply chain management.

Q: What do you think of the Italian start-ups and what difficulties did you have – if any – when you started your business?

Andrea: Now I see, after many years of professional experience, a growing number of interesting start-ups operating in an extended range of business areas and – most importantly – with a “global scope” – which seemed to lack in the past. 

Difficulties range from the low amount of funds available – especially seed and scale-up funds – as compared to other European countries, to some reluctance of established companies to accept external innovation brought by start-ups. Also, bureaucracy has improved, but remains a big burden.

Q: At the moment GreenRouter measures and manages the CO2 emission from transport. What is the development strategy for GreenRouter and how are you dealing with the scale-up phase?

Andrea: We released the warehousing measurement module, which is already in line with the very recent GLEC (Global Logistics Emissions Council) guidelines – a good exercise to standardise the CO2 measurement in logistics at a global level, which is expected to become a ISO standard in 3 years time. 

We are also working on a budgeting module, and on advanced simulation features, which will form the basis of complex analyses and, once completed, will consent to link CO2 emissions to cost behaviours.

Q: What would you suggest to a foreign venture capital investor who would like to invest in Italian start-ups? 

Andrea: Difficult question… probably my first suggestion – after evaluating the business idea – is to assess the team know-how and its temper, considering that doing business in Italy is not so easy, not to mention starting a new business. I believe that the Italian market suffers from “historical underfunding” for start-ups, filling this gap would create real opportunities.