«There is a robot valley in Genoa. Now we need to push on capital»- Corriere.it

«There is a robot valley in Genoa.  Now we need to push on capital»- Corriere.it

Of Massimo Sideri

The president of the Italian Institute of Technology and of the Generali Foundation: «Sustainability and innovation are the two essential themes. And they are an opportunity for us and for Italy»

The algorithm of the century now seems outlined: the problem is sustainability, not only environmental but also social and economic. Everything is connected in a circular principle of man-economy-planet health. The solution is technology, innovation and scientific research. Gabriele Galateri di Genola, as president of the Italian Institute of Technology and also of the Generali Foundation, therefore finds himself at this crossroads of convergences. The strategic committee of the Iit will be held today, celebrating its twenty years of activity since it was conceived by Vittorio Grilli and Giulio Tremonti.

Twenty years later, it can be said that it was born by chance — Berlusconi's initial project was an Italian Academy, along the lines of the French one, to give Umberto Veronesi a role and distance him from the "danger" of becoming mayor of Milan — has become an international benchmark, first with Roberto Cingolani and now with Giorgio Metta. «I have landed in a series of realities, which are the Generali Foundation (260,000 children and refugees helped and we are aiming for one million) and the IIt, which I have been following since it was born, which now seem to me to have reached a convergence of skills which I have not built ad hoc but which allow me to think about strategies and objectives that must interact, not least with that of Temasek, the Singapore fund of which I am senior advisor. Everywhere we are now wondering how to be sustainable and how to do it with technological innovation. And the third question, where Temasek comes into play, is how to attract investment to do all this».

Let's start from Italy also seen from the privileged point of view of the advisory with Temasek: are we becoming attractive also thanks to this convergence of skills?

«Regardless of any political argument, Italy is experiencing a rather particular moment, not only in terms of GDP numbers, with growth of 1.2%. This is a very important aspect, but in addition Italy is demonstrating growth ambitions that I find above all in the world of medium-sized enterprises which I am also visiting according to my role in Temasek and Iit. The philosophy of the entrepreneur who controls the company is changing and who now shows that he has the ambition to grow with the aim of acquiring a company as big as his. Last but not least, there is now 4-5 year stability for Italy. Which doesn't just depend on the Pnrr, which is fine: Italy is also growing because people want to do things. Psychologically, it is extremely important for an entrepreneur to be able to trust his own country. We must recognize that Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni continues on her path without equivocation: on the USA, on Ukraine".

The IIT is celebrating its 20th birthday, but in the meantime a lot has changed. Since the cancellation of the famous MEF account, he has had to look for much more capital outside. How much did this change in fundraising model weigh?

«Today the IIT (400 inventions and 1,200 patents in its portfolio) works with an annual budget of around 150 million, around 100 public and 50 from research tenders. There are four fields: robotics, nanomaterials, computational power and life sciences. When I ask around the Iit scientists and researchers who come from all over the world why they choose Genoa, they answer that they come for the technological infrastructures and interdisciplinarity. The coffee machine effect where people from different backgrounds meet and where ideas are born at the Iit is a reality. The coffee maker looked outdated. But instead it has to stay there. He doesn't know how many discoveries are made at the IIT right over a coffee".

Speaking of infrastructures, don't you think that Genoa could grow much more if there was finally a fast connection by train with Milan? It could also be an important opportunity for Milan to create a new complementary pole by uniting the two souls of these two cities: finance, historically, and technology, in recent years, as in the case of the Human Technopole born on the model of the Iit .

“I agree and I really like the idea. We have been talking about it for many years and it is finally a building site on the move. Now let's talk about 3-4 years, not 30 years. And I add: the perfect triangulation would be Milan, Genoa and Turin. In an American world they would be one city.'

What future do you see for the Iit?

«In my opinion, the valley where the Institute is located must become the Italian robot valley. The Silicon Valley of technologies».

What is missing? Robot valley has been talked about for many years. You also had spin-offs such as Movendo Technology in which Sergio Dompé invested and which has now also landed in Ukraine. The skills are there but big capital from abroad has never arrived.

“All of this is happening. In the last month I went to Genoa for two inaugurations, one for the center where 80 percent of Iit robotics is now located. I'll give just one example of excellence: the works that Barbara Mazzolai does with her robotic seeds that learn from plants, go underground and don't need the sun and light to move like a natural seed».

Perfect example of technology and sustainability.

June 29, 2023 (change June 29, 2023 | 10:08)

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