Italians come to the US like the Israeli startups (R&D @ home)

Maria Teresa Cometto —  July 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

NYC startups’ model versus the Italian and Israeli systems: that was the most interesting topic discussed last Thursday, June 27 at the Italian cultural institute in New York. To be noticed: Italians are copying the Israeli dual structure of startups, which keep R&D in their country and open offices in the US for global business development and marketing.  On YouTube we posted some parts of the panel discussion.

In part one: the Italian Consul General Natalia Quintavalle says that our book “Tech and the City” has become her “Bible” to understand what’s going on in New York and to help her promote business and investments between Italy & the US; and Riccardo Viale, the director of the Italian cultural institute, says how important the collaboration among entrepreneurs and academic institutions in the three countries – US, Italy and Israel – is.

In part two: the moderator Vito Racanelli, Senior Editor at Barron’s, introduces the panelists: Maurizio Arienzo, president and CEO of Nova Ware, and the founder of several startups both in Italy and in the US; Carlton Vann, Director of Division for International Business at NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs; Craig Gotsman, Director of Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute; and us, Maria Teresa Cometto and Alessandro Piol.

In part three: we talk about what’s special in the NYC tech community with events like the NY Tech Meetups and the special role of Angel investors; Alessandro compares the city’s scene to what’s happening in Italy, where one big problem is the lack of conspicuous tax breaks for investors in startups.

In part four: we talk about the financial and cultural differences among the systems in the US, Italy and Israel. Vann stresses that Bloomberg’s approach is hands off, facilitating startups but not picking winners & losers; Gotsman points out that in Israel it’s the central government that gives seed money to startups, chosen by the Chief Scientist.

And in part five: Gotsman explains the philosophy of the new Cornell NYC Tech campus, for grad students who have the passion and the DNA of entrepreneurs. Maria Teresa said that, as far as she remembers, in Italy there is a strong opposition to the presence of private companies in universities to fund research and to help create startups, but there are some universities where there is a fruitful collaboration between academic research and business, such as the Politecnico of Milan, of  Turin, of Bologna, the private business school Bocconi in Milan.

In fact today we has a very interesting phone conversation with Alberto Di Minin, Assistant Professor of Strategy at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy, and Research Fellow with the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy. He has just been appointed Senior Advisor on Innovation Strategy by the Italian minister of Research and Education Maria Chiara Carrozza. He explained that his main goal will be to help universities and businesses speak the same language, promoting investments by private companies in research and other projects within universities. But he also stressed that there are already universities  – the ones above mentioned and others (see the annual report published by Netval) – where private companies successfully fund research. That’s good news and it should become a model for all Italian universities.

Maria Teresa Cometto

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