The BEST Program, Italian startups take off

Published on Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Italian innovation needs foreign capital too. Everyone was in agreement at “BEST scholarship & Open Innovation - How to fully leverage startups to benefit the Italian industrial system”, a workshop organized by the radio station RDS 100% Grandi Successi and Italian Business&Investment Initiative (IB&II). Among the participants at the event was Enel Head of Country Italy, Carlo Tamburi.

Four of Italy’s top managers were invited to the headquarters of the radio station in Rome on 25 June to outline a virtuous model to support the strategic projects for Italian startups. To stimulate evolution, it is not enough to open up to international competition; it is necessary to develop the ability to attract foreign investment, the lack of which often compromises the survival of established startups. The creation of the BEST Program – the scholarship promoted by the BEST (Business Exchange and Student Training) Steering Committee and Invitalia for talented Italians under 35 years of age with innovative ideas, is an example of how it is possible to buck this trend. Since 2007, it has channelled 50 million dollars in investment from the United States, enabling over 100 young Italians to polish their skills in Silicon Valley, thanks too to the support of Enel.

“Our Group was the first to believe in this project in 2007, because ideas on their own are not enough to create a system,” explained Carlo Tamburi. “Equally, Open Innovation, which has been essential to industrial development for at least five years, needs to integrate with sustainability to be competitive on the market. This is why Enel has taken a further step forward, which we have called Innovability: the union of innovation and sustainability.”

Our Group does not only sponsor scholarships, it also supports the growth of startups at every level, through acceleration programmes at the Innovation Hubs (including the one in Silicon Valley, San Francisco) as well as through strategic partnerships.

Participants at the event, which concluded with the announcement of the BEST Program 2017/2018 winners, included Domenico Arcuri, CEO of Invitalia (National Agency for inward investment and economic development), Enrico Cereda, CEO of IBM Italy and Jeffrey Hedberg, CEO of Wind Tre.

The challenge for the future lies in increasing the number of young Italian innovators to send to the United States, the intention being to reach 300 in a year and to launch 70% of financed startups. The acceleration projects for private businesses contribute to bolstering the results of Smart&Start Italia, the most significant support programme for innovative business nationwide, which has financed 848 businesses and created 4,280 jobs in four years.

Innovation becomes simpler with Enel.

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