Fondazione Ricerca & Impreditorialità debuted in San Francisco on Nov 1 at an event organized jointly by BAIA, Mind the Bridge and the Italian Cultural Insitute.
This non-profit organization was established thanks to an alliance from the Italian public and private sectors only few months ago . Bank Intesa San Paolo, large corporations (Finmeccanica, Enel), Universities (Scuola Superiore Sant’anna and Politecnico di Milano) and high tech SMEs, joined this partnership, driven by the idea that Italy has great potential in research that can be transformed into true economic growth.
It is a fact that academic education and research in Italy are on an excellent level, but still a relatively small number of entrepreneurial ventures are spurred by this research. Surrounded by the sumptuous collection of Maria Callas’ historic stage costumes (still on display at the IIC until December 2nd) Alberto di Minin, Assistant Professor of Strategy at Scuola Superiore Sant’anna, presented the agenda of the organization.
Studies show that funding for research in Italy - both public and private - is consistently below the level of other advanced countries. The private sector is dominated by small and medium industries and this fragmentation is both an advantage and a limit to economic growth. While the ability of small businesses to renew themselves (their "know-how") has contributed to the success of the Made in Italy brand around the world, loss of competitiveness is attributed to the fact that just few of these small and medium companies are part of the high tech sector. "Science and High Tech are not perceived as a source of business in Italy" says Professor di Minin, Phd from UC Berkeley. "It is a nice thing to do, but who pays the bills?" The answer is "New knowledge for development." Fondazione R&I believes that applied basic research is the key: Science applied in order to solve practical problems.
So can we encourage and foster the growth of high-tech startups? "Companies are afraid to make the leap because there is no comparable ecosystem as there is here in Silicon Valley. In Italy we don’t celebrate entrepreneurship and the related infrastructure is therefore missing. Our goal – Di Minin underlined- is not to recreate a Silicon Valley in Italy but to create a bridge between users and providers. Create a demand for new knowledge and technology for developing ideas." The foundation aims to offer qualified services to support and encourage the growth of Italian startups: from managerial training to analysis of the potential of innovation.
"PhDs are the new entrepreneurs" Di Minin pointed out "they are the new actors, the social capital needed to look at the future." "We are very optimistic", as Di Minin concluded his speech, "first of all the commitment from the foundation is real and has been in the planning stages for a long time. Plus, all the partners are trying to sustain activities within the research system, as they are aware that the whole supporting system is missing."
Special thanks to IIC for kindly hosting the event at its magnificent new location and for providing the catering from C’era una Volta restaurant.
Hope to see you at our next events!
PS: Resource Links:
- Official event photos
- Paper: A new form of entrepreneurial capitalism based on innovation and Research in Italy (PDF, in English)
- Prof. Di Minin presentation slides of Fondazione Ricerca & Imprenditorialità (PDF, in Italian)