Bvlgari introduces its Virus Free Fund as well as a look at its continuous development towards creating a better, more sustainable world for future generations.
Bvlgari has long gone far beyond jewellery making as a company to raise awareness and support those in need and contribute to initiatives that will change the world for future generations. The Italian jeweller has raised more than $100 million through its ongoing partnership with Save the Children and its approach to the ethical sourcing of materials and its programmes for sustainability makes it one of the leaders in the market in this field.
When the coronavirus pandemic started to spread across the world, Bvlgari was one of the first to understand how important it was to be proactive in contributing to the fight against the virus and they announced several initiatives including donating to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases that allowed them to unveil a new 3D microscope, a fundamental tool for research in connection of COVID-19, as well as creating hand sanitiser in its manufacture, which has been used by thousands of healthcare professionals.
And now, as the coronavirus continues to impact countries around the world, Bvlgari announces the Bvlgari Virus Free Fund. A non-profit organisation, which will finance high-end institutions pursuing innovative research strategies to achieve remission and cure of different types of virus.
In particular, the Bvlgari Virus Free Fund will support two major institutions: The University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, which brings together investigators who are designing and developing numerous vaccines, as well as Rome’s Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases, that Bvlgari already supported previously by financing the purchase of a hi-tech microscope. With the Jenner Institute, the Bvlgari Virus Free Fund will also create two scholarships covering four years of PhD for a generation of new doctors in this essential field.
As the project was announced, Bvlgari hosted an online webinar to highlight the work of the Virus Free Fund, as well as some of the other projects that the brand is continuing to work on related to sustainability and corporate Social responsibility.
Spearheaded by Jean-Christophe Babin, President and CEO of Bvlgari, the Roman jeweller is focusing around three key values that are important to the brand in providing for the future. Jean-Christophe Babin explains:
- Children – “Children are the Gems of nature and the future of humankind as long as they can be educated and understand sustainability. They are our first priority. We try as much as possible to provide kids with the same chances as our own kids.”
- Arts – “Arts are the memory of humankind. It helps to know the roots of something to foresee the future in a positive way and arts are really the memory of all of us.”
- Health – “We need healthy people on a sustainable planet. And that’s why we immediately jumped onto the COVID battle.”
With these three key pillars in mind, Bvlgari has developed its institutional partnerships, aligning with charities and causes that will help to build a better future.
“COVID-19 has reminded us that the pandemics of history are not gone.” Said Babin. “It has also brought poverty to tens of millions of people around the world who have lost their jobs or are struggling financially.
So at Bvlgari we wanted to step up to participate on a global level with the best institutions to found programmes to firstly accelerate the COVID-19 vaccination, but beyond that, to contribute to the total elimination of coronaviruses. So our programme is, on the one hand, to finance directly the Oxford University research of an antivirus, but also to fund students who will be the next generation in this field. We are focusing on those who are the best talents but who also, for various reasons could not finance their PhD so we have been able to offer funds to assist in the providing of scholarships for some of these young people to become part of Oxford University.”
Professor Sarah Gilbert – Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford
Professor Sarah Gilbert has been working on the research at Oxford University to develop a vaccine against COVID-19:
“Currently we are waiting to find out when we will have a vaccine ready to use against COVID-19 but it’s an impossible question at the moment as it requires huge clinical trials which take a lot of time. We have to wait until enough people have gone through a trial process in order to know that the vaccine is safe. It will be some time this year and in order to get the vaccine earlier, we are now partnering with other countries including Brazil to accelerate the process.
In the past, it used to take a long time to make a vaccine against a new disease. However, the processes have now changed. We now use Platform Technologies which means we can proceed much more quickly. To make a vaccine, we use a weakened form of another virus then add in a small amount of the genetic sequence that we want to make the virus against. Because we have done so much research on our process we know that the vaccines we make are safe which allows us to move much more quickly on new trials and new vaccines.
Once the vaccine is ready we will start using it in emergency situations targeted to the most venerable parts of the community. We hope to be there in the autumn but it depends on getting the cases in the vaccine trial and it’s very difficult to know how long it will take, but they hope by working with other countries they will be able to get there faster.
The University is doing many different things and of course, its primary purpose is to teach, so when it comes to situations like this the funds aren’t always there. So contributions from partners like Bvlgari are crucial as they allow us to expand work in this area. We will also be having two new studentships which will help greatly for their lives and the work we’re doing.”
Claudia D’Arpizio – Partner Bain & Company Global Head of the Fashion & Luxury Vertical
“For many years that the consumer base of luxury has been changing. This started with the millennials and it’s true again with Generation Z. These two generations represented 40 per cent of sales in luxury last year. They are asking for brands to be building for the future, so conversations around sustainability are essential in part of building a better future. Consumers are asking brands to stand for something in an authentic and strong way. When we did an analysis last year more than 65 per cent of consumers were stating sustainability as a key driver for them.
We think that there is a millennial mindset. They have a new way of life and other generations are following. COVID is accelerating these trends and the awareness around the need to solve the problems of the planet and also issues around equality and social rights. We have seen in these months that awareness is growing and consumers are stating sustainability among the reasons that they chose a brand. So it’s not just about the products but also about how the brand engages with these projects.
I think the concept of luxury was already changing before COVID-19 in that consumers are looking to luxury products for a broader meaning that has creativity, experience and opinions. They are sharing with brands a concept around life and experiences. I think this concept has been speeded up during the crisis. I think consumers will be more choosy now on what they want from brands. Plus I think luxury is more sustainable than other industries in that you are buying something that will last for generations. Quality over Quantity.”
With these key elements in mind, we come back to the work that Bvlgari can do to support this demand for transparency and informed decisions when it comes to sustainability.
Elenora Rizzuto CSR Director at Bvlgari and LVMH Italian Brands explains how Bvlgari will very shortly be introducing the AURA Blockchain network. This forward-thinking process will allow consumers to trace the history and authenticity of luxury goods, but it will also be applied to fundraising, guaranteeing full traceability of donations and therefore allowing consumers to see how their money is spent positively.
Bvlgari will be the first in the world to apply Blockchain to philanthropy and it means they can justify every euro that they give to research or charities and they can give a practical response. The traceability will cover everything that Bvlgari does. For example – the client will find out information about the product – where the gold was discovered, which country the product came from, as well as how money is spent on charitable causes. It will allow the brand to be fully transparent with its customers.
Bvlgari’s renewed commitment to CSR doesn’t stop here. The company, inspired by the principles of Circular Economy of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Innovate, actually developed a strategy to drastically reduce the environmental footprint of its activities.
In 2019 Bvlgari adopted a Plastic Free Policy which has already seen a reduction of 19 per cent of plastic used a Bvlgari in packaging and around 15 per cent used in the manufacture of the jewellery. This is part of a complete vision that by 2021 By 2021 will see the brand eliminating plastic entirely from all of its products. “We want to reduce as much as possible their environmental impact and contribute to building a better planet.” Said Jean-Christophe Babin.