«Italy punches below its weight» is boxing terminology used in a business context to say that the country earns less respect than it should. Any Italian who works with or in the international business setting has heard it. It's something we never get used to!
The feeling of belonging is a good sensation, one that fills people with pride. The ambition to represent our country in the best possible way is innate in every one of us, whether Italian, French or German. Once upon a time the Fascist regime used to send its objectors into exile. Being country-less, rootless, not having the right to express an opinion on the common good is the most silent and heartwrenching of evils. No salary or fortune can buy the cure for it. The Chinese and Indians have built their recent economic fortunes by bringing home their finest human capital, typically educated in the universities of the United States. Dozens of multinationals are headed by our best people.
Italy is aging, but it is rich. This combination makes us pessimistic about the future: we will never be able to create wealth as we did in the past. This feeling is particularly widespread among the younger generations. «Why Italy Matters to the World» (WIMW) is the challenging response. It is a proposal that exalts the strong points of the Italian economy (exports and hi-tech) and gives the small and medium enterprises (SME) simple but modern instruments not only for «punching» where appropriate, but also to increase their «weight».
It starts from the U.S., that is and will remain the richest economy of the planet. It is the third trade partner for Italian exports (6%), after Germany and France. Not enough! Italy has taught the Americans to appreciate its food, fashions, furniture and supercars. But that is as far as it goes, and they tend to concentrate their investments and skills elsewhere. It's our own fault.
An investor who does not speak Italian, for example, and wants to be informed about Italian business - the economy, the companies, the trends and opportunities - has no other source than the foreign press.
Professor Arthur Livingston of Columbia University hired Giuseppe Prezzolini back in the Thirties to direct an information campaign for Europeans and convince them that the U.S. was a serious business partner and not merely a land of extravagant skyscrapers.
History works both ways. WIMW is a three-in-one scalable platform:
1) With Panorama Economy it has launched the first website in English from Italy (www.thisisitaly-panorama.com): starting today the two billion internauts who read English will know what is happening in Italy;
2) With Intesa Sanpaolo, Mind the Bridge, Baia we have published a «white book» (in cooperation with Harvard and the Edison Foundation) that illustrates an Italy that exports and wins on world markets;
3) WIMW is also a place, New York, where SME that want to grow can meet and present their «business case» to American investors.
We started on May 5 with 24 hi-tech companies, our best young people (start-ups) and small and medium enterprises in ICT, green tech, bio tech, aeronautics (www.italianinnovationday.com).
We thank the leaders of Alitalia, Dompé pharmaceuticals, Dmt Eni, Enel and Mediaset for their trust in us. We are so determined that we are going to manage this platform by actually moving to New York. WIMW will be in the public eye again in the fall. What we'd like to hear people say soon is «Italy really punches above its weight!».