The Italian way to innovation

A new generation of business ideas is growing. Public sources can help investors by finding and meeting them on a web portal


24 jan 2022 - Missed the last furniture week fair in Milan you were counting on to add new elegant pieces to your apartment? Struggling to remember the name of that wine firm you visited while in Sicily, last year? For those who look at Italy not only as a land of a millennial cultural heritage, or host to a number of naturalistic wonders to enjoy, choosing a reliable business partner can be daunting. The eight thousand municipalities in which Italy is divided are scattered with productive clusters animated by hundreds of thousands of micro, small and medium sized enterprises which hold the flag of craftsmanship, blended in a creative mix of tradition and innovation often unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Where to start from? The list of micro and small businesses wearing the “tricolore” on their websites is almost endless, and the risk of falling into the “Italian Sounding effect” is high.

That sound of Italy that doesn’t really ‘sound’ so well…

The improper use of words, colors, places, images, denominations and recipes that, although recalling Italy, in fact have nothing to do with the original national production is thriving around the globe. Too often they dig into the rich cake of Italian export. This bounty has increased by 60% in the last ten years and that accounts for 1000 out of the 5000 top products exchanged on world markets.

A startling example comes from the Food and Beverage sector. Sales of Italian F&B abroad are strongly affected by the impact of phenomena of counterfeiting and Italian Sounding, hitting from wines and spirits to a number of other products belonging to many more categories. Worldwide, in 2019 food fraud weighted on Italy’s trade balance in the agro-food sector a round figure of over 100 billion euros, with a record increase of 70% over the last decade.

Be it modified recipes, the use of lower quality ingredients or alternative production methods, all these practices have in common the poor transparency of the production and distribution chain along which, after multiple passages, it can be really hard to trace the real journey of your main course at that lovely (Italian?) restaurant in your neighborhood.

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