(as appeared on SiliconValley.Corriere.it blog)
your visit to Silicon Valley is much appreciated.
We are honored you accepted the invitation, that we made, along with our beloved Consul General in San Francisco, Mauro Battocchi, during the last Italian Innovation Day (video here, at min. 6.18), the event that we’ve been organizing for years to portray to the Silicon Valley community an image of Italy that goes beyond “food & fashion”, but rather highlights the value of ingenuity and technological creativity that we are so rich of, but that we often find difficult to value and export.
Mr. President, your journey has for us, Italians in Silicon Valley (well over 5000 to the last count), demonstrated a change in direction of our country.
We would like to think that this trip is the symbol of a renewed Italy, that identifies innovation, digital culture and the world of startups as a national priority, with the aim of restarting a virtuous cycle of growth.
Mr. President, we invite you to make good use of the opportunity offered by this journey to open a direct channel of communication with this community that will welcome you.
They represent the best of all things Italian (creative, sociable and loved) mixed with the best of the professionalism of the Silicon Valley (innovative and successful).
Put them on an advisory board, listen to them in order to integrate their perspective into your strategic decisions.
This is a community that has so much to give to the country that educated them.
They are comprised of a first generation, which helped lay the foundation for the development of microprocessors and computers, but also by a new generation, that of the startup entrepreneurs. A new generation that is making inroads in Silicon Valley, playing in the real “Premier League” world of innovation.
This is the community that was inspiration and support for the activities of Mind the Bridge Foundation. With our programs in support of startups, today, after 7 years, we have “graduated” more than 350 entrepreneurs from our Startup School, filtered and supported thousands of startups, and told the story of this “other Italy” to tens of thousands of people in the world.
The results are are evident. This community today is vibrant and very hungry for success. This bridge, once weak and distant, today has become a six-lane highway.
The fact that the European Commission has called an organization like ours to lead a project as the Startup Europe Partnership, which aims to create success stories of startups in Europe, is testimony that the work we have done in recent years is pushing in the right direction.
We believe, from our experience, we could provide many “technical” indications about what is useful to do in Italy in the field of investments (ie, a matching fund for venture capital), labor market (flexibility) and of tax benefits (tax breaks for investments and acquisitions in startup). We would be honored to be at your disposal.
Today we would like to ask for your attention and your support not on technical aspects, but for a topic that is very close to our heart at Mind the Bridge Foundation: entrepreneurship education.
In this regard, some programs already exist and must only be properly supported and strengthened.
We ask you to support institutional and practical programs that expose young Italian graduates and researchers to the best of Silicon Valley (as the Fulbright BEST), or lead young entrepreneurs to spend a month of their lives in San Francisco (as our Startup School, or match managers of large enterprises with young startuppers (such as our Intra-preneurship programs ). On this front, the bridge is open. To make a difference, we just have to move more people. Because every single person who experiences this experience, goes back to Italy transformed and becomes, in turn, an agent of positive change.
The piece that is still missing today, however, is to insert the topics of entrepreneurship education in early age schools (elementary and middle school). We need to give our young generations an entrepreneurial spirit and to make sure that this will become an integral part of their course of education and growth. With the aim of giving them a different perspective, a “can do” attitude and the desire and confidence to create their own opportunities instead of waiting for top-down solutions.
Mr. President, today we would like to ask you to do one more step. You have rightly placed education at the center of your reform process. In this context, the next step is the inclusion of entrepreneurship education in school curricula. To teach in an innovative way, by “native entrepreneurs.”
This step would put Italy at the forefront internationally, not immediately, but in the near future. But it’s from the day-after that we start to make plans for today and tomorrow.
We, at Mind the Bridge Foundation, have the passion, experience and content needed to carry out a program to address masses of students aged 8 to 13. Italy may become the case study on which to build similar programs at European level.
We believe that entrepreneurship is a fundamental social engine. We strongly believe in its value not only for economic growth but also, and above all, for its overwhelming social impact. This is the one ingredient that determines that sense of viral positiveness that you can breath here in every startup accelerator or co-working space.
It’s our duty to make sure that the younger generations in our country are born and can grow up with a “can-do” attitude – an attitude which now seems to have been lost in Italy- an attitude that is the true secret of Silicon Valley.