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23 marzo 2012

Discorso dell’Ambasciatore USA David Thorne

Discorso dell’Ambasciatore USA David Thorne durante il Digital Economy Forum Start-Up Boot Camp. È un grande piacere per me darvi il benvenuto all’apertura del Boot Camp, e vi ringrazio sentitamente per la vostra partecipazione. Credo che alcuni di voi abbiano già partecipato agli altri eventi che si sono svolti nell’ambito del Forum. Prima di tutto, vorrei ringraziare i nostri collaboratori e gli sponsor, in modo particolare il Professor Galli e il Museo che ci ospita, un museo che dimostra apertura ed interesse per il tema dell’economia digitale e dove al momento è in corso una mostra sul grande genio che è stato Steve Jobs! As some of you may know, I, too, was once in your shoes—a young entrepreneur trying to start a company. I know what a difficult process it can be—full of risks at every turn but also full of great reward and satisfaction. Now, my focus is more on identifying young companies which would benefit from investment. It is risky to bet on untested ideas and unproven technologies. I fully expect only 2 out of 10 companies I invest in to do really well. Four will do okay. Four will fail. But this risk-taking is an essential part of developing a robust start-up ecosystem. It is often hard to predict the next big trend, so it’s important to invest broadly and sometimes in ideas that many might believe to be a little crazy. There is no reward without risk. I applaud all of you who have the courage to strike out on your own and create your own future. In Italy, youth unemployment stands at over 30%. After one year, 19% of university graduates in Italy are unable to find a job. You all represent the best way of tackling that problem—creating your own jobs, contributing to the growth of the economy, and building jobs for others. The digital economy is one of the strongest drivers of growth, especially in the U.S. Tech start-ups, some of which have grown to become some of the largest companies in the world, account for much of that growth. People have often asked me what makes Silicon Valley work so well? Is it possible to recreate Silicon Valley? To the first question, the Valley became what it is through a unique set of circumstances—close relationships between universities and local semiconductor and aerospace industries, a culture of knowledge sharing, a flow of talented PhDs from around the world, and, of course, money. To the second question, I think our speakers from New York might say why would you want to recreate Silicon Valley when you can have Silicon Alley! The truth is there are many exciting tech start-up ecosystems developing all over the world—each in a unique way and each taking advantage of and adapting to local conditions. London, New York, Singapore, Berlin, and Pune in India—are all incredibly different cities with different cultures. Yet each one has developed or is developing a strong tech and entrepreneurial culture. In the U.S., Boston has become a hub for start-ups in both the ICT and biotech fields, taking advantage of the research coming out of the city’s many universities. During the economic crisis a lot of New Yorkers with expertise in certain verticals—media, fashion, food, design—decided to transfer their knowledge to the start-up world—creating opportunity out of crisis. I’m sure you’ve heard of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. It’s one of the best-known festivals for the digerati in the U.S. In a state that gets a large percentage of its income from oil and gas, no one would have predicted that Austin would become a start-up hub. Here in Italy, you have the necessary elements to create a strong ecosystem. And a robust ecosystem is critical to enabling start-ups to scale quickly and effectively. You have plenty of technical and creative talent, great UX designers, excellent engineering schools. The angel and VC community is growing in Italy, which is great, but much of Italy’s individual wealth is untapped and could be invested in start-ups. You have some of the most creative businesspeople in Italy who have overcome bureaucratic obstacles to build thriving businesses. Seek them out. Ask them to be your mentors and advisers. Fortunately, you also now have ministers who are interested in Italy’s youth and very supportive of entrepreneurship and the digital agenda. But many of the most dynamic hubs of entrepreneurship in the world have been created from the bottom up. Don’t wait for the government. The private sector can both lead the way and work with local and national governments to create regulations favorable to new enterprises. Fixed broadband may not be as widespread as you would like, but there are 60 mobile broadband subscriptions for every 100 inhabitants in Italy. Tap into that broadband to deliver your services and platforms. And I can’t stress enough the importance of networking and sharing ideas amongst yourselves. Often this is how a start-up team is made—through chance encounters where bright people toss around ideas over a cup of coffee or while at university together. Of course, the business world has changed since I was an entrepreneur, and the pace of change is incredible in the tech space. It seems that a new icon appears on my favorite websites every day. While I do like and link and skype, I don’t yet tumble or stumble or check-in or pin. But maybe someday. And hopefully, it will be one of you to create the next icon that pops up on my screen.


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