Can the web increase the visibility of Italian companies and train them to think digitally? This question was discussed during the second leg of the roadshow Eccellenze in Digitale, an initiative sponsored by Google, Fondazione Symbola and Università Ca' Foscari, in collaboration with Coldiretti and CNA. Through presentations by experts in the sector and testimonies of people that increased their business through the web, the tour tries to explain to companies the opportunities offered by digital technology. We had the opportunity to attend the meeting which took place here at IED in Florence and can explain what had happened.


The debate was opened by Domenico Sturabotti, director of Fondazione Symbola. The foundation, set up by approximately 150 organizations, is dedicated to research and training activities. It is also involved in supporting small and medium enterprises defining strategies for increasing their competitiveness in the Italian economic landscape. For Sturabotti, Italy is a country full of crafts and traditions. He believes that in order to achieve excellence the Country should focus on its own peculiarities and trust in digital instruments. This is the only way to give a future to Italian economy.

Diego Ciulli, senior policy analyst at Google, showed that although, in 2013, there has been an increase in the search of products made ​​in Italy by users, now there is suspicion towards digital activities among small italian entrepreneurs. In fact, a survey realized by Google shows that, actually, only three out of ten enterprises use e-commerce to sale their products, and more than 20% don't have a company computer. Even compared to other European countries, these numbers show a clear a gap. However, Google wants to reduce this gap through a series of initiatives to promote digital culture and to appreciate Italian excellence.

The meeting continued talking with people who have used the web to increase their business and popularity: Luciano Ciolfi of Podere San Lorenzo, Stefano Zaccaria and Sergio Fantacci of Gruppo Falegnameria Fantacci Design, Mattia Sullini of and Laura De Benedetto of MakeTank.


"Small and medium enterprises should invest in e-commerce and online communication. Networking is an extraordinary opportunity to share the importance of Italian products, their peculiarities and values". These words, spoken by Stefano Micelli, teacher of e-business at the University Ca' Foscari of Venice, insist on the necessity of Italian companies to communicate their business in new ways in order to survive. Furthermore, they open a discussion about digital crafts and the importance of making. In this conference spoke: Andrea Calistri, Alessandro Colombo, Claudio Gagliardi, Robert Troy Nachtigall and Carmelo Troccoli.

During the round table, Alessandro Colombo, director of IED Florence, focuses on the importance of providing italian companies with the right tools to be competitive not only in products, but also in communication. During the debate, Micelli asked Colombo if a culture of making is possible. The director of IED responded by stating that it is very important to connect designers and makers with territorial contexts. IED, in fact, believes in partnerships with schools, districts, companies and institutions because with these cooperations students can develop their competence. It's essential to think, create, and make mistakes, but always inside a practical context.


The importance of spaces where handcraft, innovation and creativity will meet is highlighted by Troy Nachtigall, one of our makers. As a designer, Troy believes in the possibility of giving a new face to handcrafted traditions by combining them with digital production techniques. Digital technology gives a second life to handmade. The old becomes new and the objects take on new shapes without forgetting their history and tradition. However, ideas work only with the right tools. For this it's important to create a model of crowdfunding not only as a collective financing initiative, but also as a chance to increase advertising and visibility. Both FabLab and marketplaces are essential in promoting and supporting the revolutionary Makers movement.

The last protagonist of this intense debate was Carmelo Troccoli, national secretary of Coldiretti Young Enterprise. Troccoli emphasizes how, even today, the Italian food industry is taken as an example of excellence in the consumer world. However, in a world where tastes evolve and consumers are more demanding, Italian small and medium companies can't remain anchored to the traditional concept of entrepreneurship. Instead, they must accept the digital challenge with courage and take advantage of web, without losing their peculiarities. The event then continued with a discussion on the topics of online communication between traditional and digital companies.

At the end of the day, I think that these meetings should be organized more frequently. They represent opportunities to persuade companies of the importance of communicating themselves in new ways.


Roberta Constantino, born in Sicily and Tuscan by adoption, graduated with a degree in Communication Sciences at the University of Catania. After, she pursued a Ph.D. in Systems and Communication Projects at the University of Pisa. After a work experience in Milan, she returned to Tuscany to attend a course in e-commerce. She loves food, 80's music and Ammaniti's book.


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