Because Italy is more than a geographic expression..

Alessi S.P.A. US

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

From Ancient To Modernity: Italy Still Play A Role In Cutting Edge Technology

Interesting article in the MIT Technology Review on Italy positioning itself to be a world leader in technology.

Italy is a unique entity among the G7.  It held out, more than any, going full mass production instead remaining a SME economy along dynastic lines (think Beretta).

Part of the reason is Italians don't see the need and have little trust in putting their businesses in the hands of the stock market. At least, relative to their brethren in the G7 who have embraced the idea in order to be relevant and show economic power, raising capital and increasing market cap is good for a country as a whole.

Italians have been more apprehensive and it seems this strategy may be beginning to pay off for them.

The key is SME's are much easier to identify and adapt to constant changes in an economy.

This article further highlights the chauvinism of grouping Italy with the PIIGS is misguided and wrongheaded.

Italy may have its problems, no better or worse than most Western countries, but it has a lot going for it.

I've always marvelled and appreciated how an ancient civilization has managed to keep itself relevant  with modernity like Italy does. Few countries, if any, in the world can match the bridging of an ancient heritage with a technologically advanced.

Excepts from the article:

"When your thoughts turn to Italy, which products, services, and industries immediately come to mind? “You probably think of food, fast cars, fashion, wine, design, tourism—and all of that is good,” says Michele Scannavini, president of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), which promotes the internationalization of Italian companies. But now Italy’s leaders want the world to recognize their country’s 21st-century strengths in advanced manufacturing, machinery, robotics, and related areas as well..."
"...At first glance, that transition might seem especially daunting given that Italian industry consists primarily of small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), he says. Often family-owned, these SMEs simply can’t match the financial resources of giant global enterprises based in Germany, the United States, and elsewhere.
In reality, though, modest size provides competitive advantage for Italian companies, Scannavini continues: “They are nimble and flexible and very fast to adopt new technologies.” In fact, he notes, what some might consider “the technologies of tomorrow” are already widely used in Italy: “Today, 40 percent of Italian manufacturing companies use 3-D printers for fast prototyping, and 25 percent use robotics in the manufacturing process.”
"...Italy is:
  • Europe’s second-largest manufacturing economy, and home to some of the region’s most environmentally efficient manufacturing systems.
  • Europe’s third-largest exporter of flexible manufacturing technologies, including robotics, with $9.6 billion in Italian exports to the United States alone.
  • Among just five countries worldwide with a manufacturing trade surplus exceeding $100 billion.
Italy is also among the world leaders in industrial machinery. It ranks second worldwide in global competitiveness in that industry and is among the world’s top three producers of machined parts. More than 4,600 companies are producing machinery and related products in Italy today, employing nearly 180,000 people. That’s a significant chunk of the workforce in a country with a population of just under 60 million."
"...In September 2016, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development launched its Industrial National Plan 4.0—“Industry 4.0,” for short—which Scannavini describes as supporting “the digitization of the Italian economy.” The long-term strategic plan is designed to generate billions of dollars for technology research and innovation through tax breaks, venture-capital support for startups, and other public and private sources.
The plan also includes a strong educational component. The Italian government plans to create four or five centers of competence at top Italian universities in Milan, Pisa, and other locations. Collectively, those centers will shoot for some ambitious 10-year targets: training 200,000 students and 3,000 managers, and awarding 1,400 PhDs “on topics related to innovation, high technology, and the industry of the future,” Scannavini says."
"...IBM’s center will bring together data scientists, engineers, researchers, and designers—all specialists in Watson Health, which brings the advanced cognitive-computing capability of IBM’s Watson to the analysis of health-care data. “The center will be responsible for developing new diagnostic systems, new therapeutic solutions, and personalized medicine,” Scannavini says. 
IBM, which pledged to invest up to $150 million in the new center over the next several years, says company leaders envision the center becoming the hub of “a pan-European ecosystem for health-care reform, research, and health-tech startup”—in other words, another source for collaboration. 
IBM calls Italy a natural location for Watson Health’s first European center of excellence due to the nation’s “commitment to health and wellness.” That doesn’t surprise Scannavini, who notes that Italy boasts one of the highest levels of life expectancy (second only to Japan), low infant-mortality rates, and one of the world’s top health-care systems—all according to the World Health Agency (WHO). 
Another example: In June 2016, Lamborghini launched the Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL) in Seattle to conduct research on improving the strong, lightweight carbon-fiber-component materials used in the company’s high-end sports cars. While the Pacific Northwest is half a world away from the Italian automaker’s headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Seattle was a strategic choice for the lab because of Lamborghini’s ongoing collaboration with Boeing, which also uses carbon fiber in its aircraft and aerospace products.
"...One of Scannavini’s top priorities is increasing Italy’s presence in the digital universe. There’s plenty of room for growth in that area. “We’re almost starting from scratch, unfortunately,” he said in a November 2016 interview with ItalyEurope24, a digital business publication..."