January 2, 2019
Transforming inventions created by a combination of poly-technical research teams and multi-disciplinary university research teams into companies, monetising innovation while aware of the necessary effort in the planning process, allocating all the necessary resources to build a product which is valuable on the market it is destined for, conceiving projects capable of being ‘born’ big and international. These are the great achievements for which the rectors of some of the most important Italian universities give credit to e-Novia, the Enterprises Factory. The Club Prime Deal, a meeting involving shareholders, investors and stakeholders that was held at e-Novia’s headquarters in Milan last 12th of December, was the chance to bring all the actors in the Enterprise Factory’s ecosystem together at the end of an intense year.
In the less than three years it has been operating, e-Novia has launched 26 entrepreneurial ventures, accrued over 50 million euros, and filed 30 international patents. An example of technology transfer as a business model, a topic which some top-level exponents of Italian universities have spoken out about. “Industrial research is the child of basic research” commented the Rector of Bocconi University in Milan, Gianmario Verona, while taking part in a discussion panel on the subject. “The problem in Italy is the lack of resources and orchestration between researchers, universities and companies. Now there’s the possibility to innovate on a small scale, every initiative is welcome” he added.
Initiatives which, as in e-Novia’s case, work thanks to contamination. “Diversity is fundamental for the development of living species, and even more so for companies and for industry”, explained Luigi Frati, Rector of the University of Siena. It’s not a coincidence that e-Novia contains among its human capital (over 100 people, 220 counting companies in which it has a stake) engineers, designers and business experts, mixing and working together to launch innovative projects.
“At the University of Trento, we blend the different elements in our physical environment, the Contamination Lab – philosophers, legal experts, engineers – to equip people to work with complementary skills. Technical-scientific expertise is necessary, but other kinds of skills too. We then have to do the other kind of ‘contamination’ – bringing companies to our laboratories to look for solutions” commented the Rector, Paolo Collini.
Today, a significant window of opportunity is opening in this regard, suggests Roberto Tiezzi, Director of the Technology Transfer Office at the Polytechnic of Milan. “We have had several examples of success. For example, those universities that manage to go beyond the laboratory dimension and move towards prototyping, with an emphasis on proof of concept, like the British universities and Leuven University in Belgium”.
To this end Italian universities are constantly putting in place new initiatives. From Poli 360, the venture capital fund specialising in technological transfer, launched by the Polytechnic of Milan along with the venture capital firm 360 Capital Partners, to the University for Innovation Foundation, formed by the University of Bergamo with the University of Pavia and the Bicocca University of Milan. “We are shaping a common experience to put the best inventions from the three universities in the shop window and achieve critical mass”, explains the Pro-Rector of Technological Transfer at the University of Bergamo, Sergio Cavalieri.
e-Novia is strategic, and the Enterprises Factory is a means to transform the best projects from our laboratories in to companies. “In 2019, our Factory will develop even more, perfecting relationships with Italian and international universities, accruing more capital, creating new value but keeping an eye on the profitability and sustainability of the company” – said the CEO of e-Novia Vincenzo Russi, who continued: “The new projects that we will be previewing with our investors represent only some of e-Novia’s new development trajectories”.