What is the model of Italia Innovation, and why did you decide to replicate it in California?
Italia Innovation is a company that operates as a platform for research and development of business projects characterized by a strong curatoriality. Each project is conceived in collaboration with professors and students from the most competitive universities in the world, who - through an in-depth study of excellent Italian case studies - help us outlining opportunities for innovation and impact in manufacturing.
In particular, over the past year we have been working on how research for high quality and sustainability can guide innovation of products and processes, by means of two innovation programs led respectively by Riccardo Illy, president of the Illy Group, and Debra Dunn, professor at Stanford University and board member of IDEO.Org and B-Lab.
After five years of activity, we have decided to expand our initiative to California, where many companies in the field of high quality manufacturing are growing with a sustainable approach.
In your opinion, what are the necessary conditions to foster innovation?
This is a difficult question, because innovation is always related to a context. Over time we have learned to appreciate many types of innovation, from that of managers who have to move within defined strategies and budgets, to that of entrepreneurs passionate in offering the world the best possible products.
In the first case, the key element is empathy, as it is necessary to have a great ability in relating with several stakeholders and in synthesizing the change, in a situation where compromise is inevitable. In the second case, the key element is freedom, a mental condition that may be expressed in courage in a vision and in coherence with its values in producing social changes even before industrial ones.
Does it still make sense to talk about Made in Italy? Why?
The Italian approach for the creation of added value is definitely a precious goldmine on which young Italians still sit today to build their future. Comparing ourselves with other cultures, we always feel that Italian thinking is appreciated for its ability to manage complexity, and to produce solutions in every field that stand out for their simplicity, functionality and elegance.
That said, in a period in which it seems that nationalisms are reviving, it is equally important to recognize that the Italian value is not genetic or geographical, but more simply cultural. For this reason we support a new definition, the Made by Italy, to put precisely the emphasis on that collective identity that is given by the Italian culture - that can be appreciated and produced authentically also in other places and by people with other passports. The beauty and the goodness of our know-how are not an acquired right but the result of constant research.
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