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TEDxLakeComo -- Davide Marrone - In Italy innovation is possible

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We often hear that Italy needs more innovation to grow. Let's then try to understand, in a few minutes, what it means to innovate and what the needed components are for innovation to take place. We first have to point out what innovation means: people usually confuse invention with innovation, but these aspects, although correlated, aren't really equivalent. You don't always need to invent something new, to innovate- yes, there have actually been big inventions like Edison's lightbulb, or Marconi's radio- but “invent” might also mean “reinvent a preexisting thing”. Take Starbucks, for example. Starbuck took a pre-existing, widely used product (coffee), reinvented everything around it, and actually created a brand new product. There have also been other inventions in Italy, especially in the ICT field: we can see these two examples, YOOX and vcast. These are two websites that tried to take two existing products and reinvent them through the Internet. The first tried to bring on-line the experience of purchasing clothes, while the second tried to virtualize tape-recorders, and made this device available through a simple web interface. As another example of innovation – I can bring my own little case, which is Skebby. I actually haven't invented anything new: I only made a small innovation on SMS, a pre-existing product. I realized an application for cell phones, and let people send SMS from the cell phone through the Internet instead of the usual carriers' network. So this is also an example of innovation. However, by itself innovation isn't enough. A good idea is just a part of the process: you then also have to make it, bring it on the market and prove that it works. To do all that, a series of components are necessaries: let's run through them shortly. First of all, there are schools: schools and University need to train kids and let them understand that, if you have an idea, you can be an entrepreneur, turn your idea into a project, a company, and if you're brave enough you can also bring it to the world market. Then of course, there are funders: they're very important in innovation, because a start-up usually loses money, and so funders are needed to seed fund, to test prototypes, try new business models. Then we have media: media usually have a huge power, and unfortunately, in Italy they should be more focused on positive models, and less on the guys in the “Big Brother's” house. Maybe they should tell some success story of creative people that did something interesting. Institutional investors also promote this process of inovation. And finally, Government should support innovation, and write laws that help young people to take that path, instead of stopping them: in Italy, for example, the jurisprudence on privacy is extremely bulky and complex, perhaps the most complex in Europe, or even in the world. But all these laws prevent innovation: Facebook and Twitter, for example, could not have been started in Italy. Around the world, all these element are more or less developed: in the ICT field, of course, the most developed ecosystem is in the Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, we're not quite there in Italy. But nevertheless, something is here. During University, the idea of developing this application came to my mind. Then I had to write a business plan, so I had the opportunity of writing it, Then I realized my prototype, the media eventually noticed me, and the news started spreading around the world. This made me emerge from anonymity: I raised some investors' interest, and I also managed to bring two business angels in. And we're also bringing this project on with them, we won some public tenders to keep developing it. The results of this? In four years, we topped over a million users, 30% of which outside of Italy, along with 4500 companies and, last but not least, we hired 10 people. So, can innovation take place in Italy? Yes. It's certainly harder than in other countries, but people need to know that it can be done here as well. Thank you. (Applause)

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 6 seconds
Country: Italy
Language: Italian
Producer: TEDx
Director: Gerolamo Saibene
Views: 57
Posted by: tradottiinitaliano on Dec 18, 2011

Davide, from Como, expert in security intelligence developed at the age of 24, the first application of texting via internet from a simple mobile phone. In 2007 he founded Skebby (, of which he is Vice President and Chief Technology Officer and shortly afterwards, the world of media and in particular two serial entrenpreneurs, took notice of him and decided to invest and support the development of the company.

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