Startups are growing everywhere


My Startup World speaks with Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE and Director of ITA about the trends in the world of startups, and how is Itlay supporting and promoting its startups on the global stage.

What unique propositions startups could offer during these highly competitive and almost saturated market conditions?
There is always room for innovation, that has been the essence of our survival. Startups that are innovative and come up with solutions that address real-life problems will survive. The advantage for the Startups is that they are more agile and cost-effective in providing solutions. These qualities will help them to stand out in a saturated market.

In the current challenging scenario, what are the chances for startups to sustain and flourish?
Challenges bring about opportunities. For example, Covid is a challenge but there are startups who have made a mark by providing solutions for these challenging times, like disinfectant systems and virtual meeting and education solutions. Survival depends on innovation and creativity, and that is what startups are known for.

How is the appetite for startups in a developed economy as compared to those in the emerging economies?
There are startups everywhere, whether emerging economies or developed economies. The appetite is growing with each passing day irrespective of developed economies or emerging economies. Sourcing money or raising funding for start-ups in emerging economies is still a challenge but now with crowdfunding and increasing interest of VCs in emerging economies, the barriers for startups are also coming down.

How Italian entities are supporting the startups during this pandemic?
We support a very strong startup ecosystem in Italy by creating international visibility for them through trade fairs like Gitex. Another initiative is the Global Start-Up Program, an eight weeks incubation program for innovative Italian Startups to foster new business opportunities and attract international investment. The number of Italian start-ups has boomed over the past few years, and as of July 2020, Itlay has registered almost 11,500 start-ups in the country. And, 18% of new Italian start-ups are founded by those under 35.

Which are the most sought-after technology trends for startups in recent times?
Artificial Intelligence, Fintech, Agritech, Healthtech and Edutech prove to be the most sought-after technologies that are helping startups to innovate and flourish.

Can you elaborate on how the healthy partnership between UAE and Italy can enable a conducive environment for startups?
Italy and UAE enjoy a strong trade relationship. Initiatives like InnovItalyUAE, organized by the Embassy of Italy to the United Arab Emirates, help to explore opportunities for cooperation in innovation between Italy and the UAE in key sectors like cybersecurity, smart cities and life science. Also, the Italian Trade Agency plays a vital role in establishing and expanding the footprint of Italian firms; and GITEX Future Stars is a platform for tech start-ups from Italy to explore more opportunities in the region’s thriving technology sector

What are the primary areas of interest for the startups in the Italian pavilion and what is the showstopper for the visitors in your pavilion?
Visitors to the Italian pavilion can experience innovative technologies such as wearables for contact-tracing and social-distancing, blockchain solutions in the agricultural, food and textile sectors, Big Data solutions that understand human language and transforms it into data requests, applications for healthcare sector and advancements in Augmented Reality, and more. We also have a startup pitch competition in our stand which will be useful for visitors and investors to attend.

What are the key expectations and takeaways from this edition of Gitex Future Stars 2020?
Despite the difficult situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Italian pavilion doubled in terms of numbers of participants, showing that Italy is ready to do business again. The 20 companies participating in our pavilion showcase a wide spectrum of technologies ranging from ICT to Healthcare, Smart City and Agritech and, they are here to explore partnerships and share knowledge with their peers and to explore greater opportunities for growth. Participating in GITEX Future Stars shows the strength and commitment of Italy’s start-up sector to move forward despite the challenges of the pandemic.

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