Future Society

PNI, where innovation becomes a business

12 September 2018 | Written by La redazione

On November 29th and 30th the final of the 16th edition of the National Award for Innovation will be held in Verona, which will challenge the best hi-tech enterprise projects won by the regional StartCups.

“Today there is no innovation without startup”. Giovanni Perrone, President of PNICube, the Italian association that brings together the university incubators and founder of the regional StartCups, the business plan competitions that reward the best Italian hi-tech enterprise projects, is sure of that. “Startups are the essential element for the transition of research and technology developed in laboratories to the business world.”

And precisely the intention to build a bridge between businesses and the research world is the aim of the National Award for Innovation, or PNI, this year at its 16th edition. Born in 2003 to promote and spread the entrepreneurial culture in the academic field, this award is the final competition among the winners of the 15 regional StartCups that are held throughout the year in Italy. The total prize money is about 1.5 million euros: over 500,000 euros in cash and about 1 million in services, offered by universities and incubators contributing in PNICube. After the 2017 edition, hosted by the University Federico II of Naples, it is now the turn of the University of Verona to open its doors to the event, on 29 and 30 November 2018: The University of Verona is also co-organizer of the award, which sees the partnership, moreover, of the Chamber of Commerce of Verona.

“PNI is the most important award in Italy dedicated to innovation and we are proud to host the national final for the first time – explains the rector of the University of Verona Nicola Sartor -. We can reward the most innovative ideas at an equally important event, the Job&Orienta fair, thus teaching young people that is important not only to study, but also to develop the ability to innovate and to have brilliant ideas to transfer to the business world. The great effort we are making in these years is to open more and more the university to the contacts with the productive world avoiding being what is typically called the “ivory tower”, to be instead an institution that also dialogues with the outside world in order to strengthen opportunities for mutual cooperation.”

As recalled by Sartor, the award will be hosted within Job&Orienta, the largest Italian trade fair dedicated to work, orientation and training: a further opportunity to reach out to young people and their talents, true protagonists of the event. Indeed, as Perrone explains: “Startups are not just innovation but also talent forges. The models that other countries are already establishing – such as the Tech City in London, or the Station F in Paris – are not just about innovation but also about talent, because companies are not only interested in innovation that ‘it’s inside the startups, but also to the skills of those who create it.”

This year’s edition is dedicated to the theme “Destination Enterprise 4.0” and will therefore focus on entrepreneurship, work and innovation, with a specific focus on digitization and the “Piano Impresa 4.0” project. “Considering that the innovation generated within the StartCup organized by our association draws on what is happening in the research world, – continues Perrone – this year we wanted to put the focus on ‘Destination Enterprise 4.0’ because most part of the innovations nowadays concerns precisely this area, that is all those issues such as the Internet of Things, Big Data, artificial intelligence, robotics, that are the top level of innovation in the world.”

This year too the 60 finalist projects will compete for the 4 sector prizes of 25,000 euros each, thanks to the contribution of the category partners – IREN Cleantech & Energy, PwC ICT, NTT Data Industrial and Life Sciences – and will compete for the title of absolute winner of the PNI 2018, which will guarantee the PNI Champions Cup to the academic institution of origin. The award also includes two Special Mentions (“Social Innovation” promoted by the Global Social Venture Competition and “Equal Opportunities” set up by the MIP Milan Polytechnic) and several Special Prizes made available by Embassies and prestigious partner companies.

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