On February 19, 2008 I had the pleasure to be invited to speak at the Italian Parliament for an event on Venture Capital reform organized by Gaetano Pellicano, the President of BAIA Italy. Since the inception of BAIA Italy last year, Gaetano has been working on connecting the business communities gathered by BAIA in Italy and California, leveraging his experience to promote the exchange of knowledge, especially in the venture capital area.
Gaetano, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your professional activities?
Since 2001 I have been a political advisor of the U.S. State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. I work with American companies and institutions in Italy and advise the U.S. government with respect to policies in Italy and the EU. I focus also on job creation policies and have taught public administration at the Scuola Superiore della Pubblica Amministrazione. After meeting BAIA founders Matteo Daste and Giorgio Ghersi in San Francisco and seeing what BAIA is doing, I espoused the idea and in 2007 I promoted the launch of a BAIA Rome Chapter, that I am currently presiding.
How relevant of a topic is promoting venture capital investment in Italy today?
Low level of investment by risk capitals hinders the capability of boosting an ecosystem which favors innovation. Either big corporations or the research sector call for a stronger network between different actors, including venture funds, in order to improve their competitiveness, to establish cooperation with international players, and to bring new ideas, products and service to the market.
How did BAIA Italy play a role in organizing the February 19 event?
BAIA had been working in close cooperation with the Partnership for Growth of the U.S. Embassy in Rome that promoted a network between serial entrepreneurs, business angels and venture capitals. We proposed to work with this group of players to strengthen the links with Californian counterparts and to consolidate a package of proposals of improvements of the legal system along with most interested policy makers. Decidere.net and Competere appreciated our initiative and decided to cosponsor it.
What possible benefits could come out of these activities for Italy?
Our aims are to improve the ecosystem, to increase its dynamism and to help Italian innovators willing to establish joint ventures and other forms of cooperation with American colleagues. We will submit the package to the new parliament and the new government by September.
What's the outlook for BAIA Italy?
We are structuring our organization concentrating our energies on few events which might allow us to involve new members. Volunteerism is less common in Italy than in the States, but with a strategic vision we hope to stimulate the participation of a significant group of innovators interested in our unique initiative.
I would like to thank again Gaetano for his contribution. It is hoped that initiatives like the one promoted by BAIA Italy will be a welcome addition to the Italian economic panorama and will not only contribute to promoting knowledge of California models in Italy, but will also give a fresh perspective on venture capital to leaders and entrepreneurs in Italy.