StartUp Ecosystem Day 2020. A day to remember

9 December 2020

There are many reasons to remember the 2020 edition of the StartUp Ecosystem Day. First edition entirely online, first time with Alec Ross as Distinguished Visiting Professor at BBS and first time in a difficult context with an ambitious goal: contributing to relaunch the economy starting from the main Millennium topics such as all things digital, sustainability and excellence. And from the courage of those who, not just in Italy, are betting in favor of innovation.

The StartUp Ecosystem Day of last December 4th was an unprecedented event. The previously established meeting occasion between the most innovative Startups and the BBS Community has re-invented itself creating a new digital format that turned out to be a winning choice.

The fifth edition has indeed involved over 600 users, 70 startups and 20 speakers from different industries, whose contributions enabled us to delve deeper into the challenges and innovation areas, within the time slots allocated to the exchanges of ideas, as per the agenda.

The plenary session opened the event with Riccardo Fini, Director of BBS Entrepreneurship Hub and creator of the StartUp Ecosystem Day and Alec Ross, in his capacity as member of the Bologna Business School Faculty, and also as venture capitalist with a vast international experience.

As Riccardo Fini reminded all participants, “to navigate these unpredictable times, it’s necessary to have an entrepreneurial mindset and the StartUp Ecosystem Day is first and foremost a meeting opportunity for people who developed, or are about to develop, this type of thinking. Still, an event that can “create connections between students, entrepreneurs, managers and investors”, is today more than ever also a step forward in fostering and inspiring the entrepreneurial culture of innovation in our region”.

When talking about inspiration it’s hard not to think of Alec Ross, who’s been advisor for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but most of all a “great mind” of our time, whom Fini introduced starting with his ability to inspire. Something which Ross certainly did, declaring his fascination with the fabric of the Italian startups and mentioning that startups themselves, even the smallest and most courageous, in which our region is rich , are the ones that “imagine and invent the future”.

As regards the current uncertainties, recalling the difficult social and economic situation after WW2, Alec Ross highlighted how from those difficulties arose the Italian industrial system, because, quoting Picasso, “every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction”. Therefore, green light to creation, interpreting and anticipating the future starting with raw materials, like our grandparents did. Today’s raw materials are data, and we have to learn to deal with data, to create the industrial fabric of the future.

The proceedings got to the heart of the matter with thematic sessions focused around the most relevant industries, both globally and locally. Sustainability, Digital, Luxury, Automotive, Automation and Agri-food are the areas to focus on, excellences that characterize our geographic area, but also pivotal industries for the future of the planet because, as Michele Poggipolini, President of Young Entrepreneurs Group, Confindustria Emilia and Executive Director and Head of Innovation of The Innovation Group underlined “From the high-end niche markets to the more general ones, let’s think global”.

Important signals come also from the field of sustainability, with companies increasingly involved in the development of sustainable products and processes. Sustainability is a guiding light to be followed, a necessity even more than an opportunity, because like Davide Neri, Marketing and International Development Manager of WASP said, “we’re not so crazy as to think we can save the world, but we’re crazy enough for trying it”.

There’s a sector though that was involved more than the others in the fifth edition of the StartUp Ecosystem Day: the Digital one. Andrea Pia, VP Client Services Italy at AKQA and Director of the International Executive MBA at Bologna Business School, underlined that, on the one hand “the capacity to foresee changes is crucial” and in this, it’s mainly data that rule the roost and with those also increasingly developed artificial intelligences that help us collect and sort out data, but on the other investors invest in teams, even more than in the productbecause people are always at the core of development projects and they’re the key to overcome this difficult historical period.

Fabio Nalucci, CEO and Founder of Gellify, an innovative platform that invests in high technological content B2B startups putting them in contact with traditional companies, has instead shifted the focus from the vision to the know-how, recalling that “for investors it’s no longer enough to see visionary abilities and disruptive ideas in entrepreneurs, they must have execution, organizational and managerial abilities for profitable and scalable businesses”. This is a confirmation of the fact that the multidisciplinary approach, which has always been one of BBS strengths, is a key element on which we need to keep on focusing to train tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.

Starting from 17.30 and until the end of the event, one-to-one meetings were organized, a valuable occasion to share points of view on topics of specific interest for Startuppers and Community. About 170 encounters led to the creation of new synergies and opportunities for the various parties involved.

Courage was undoubtedly the common denominator of the entire event. Courage, said Alec Ross at the end of his speech, isthe only fundamental characteristic for anyone wishing to start a business” and in this edition of the StartUp Ecosystem Day there were examples of initiatives born out of an act of bravery. Also, the courage to make mistakes, because mistakes aren’t a personal failure, but a growth opportunity from which to learn”, as Martina D’Ariano of Regenesi emphasized.

An important day, rich in contributions, that confirmed the quality of the initiative, also in its new digital format, because, as Max Bergami, BBS Dean, declared: “The StartUp Ecosystem Day is a crucial meeting opportunity for our Community. Even before being a fundamental enabler of financial opportunities for the participating startups, it’s indeed a platform for sharing experiences and exchanging ideas, to start the circulation of human and relational capital that, especially in this period, should not stop”.


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