We often hear about the constant efforts by Italy’s regulatory bodies to safeguard our authentic “Made in Italy” merchandise mark.
A lot of times, however, the best solutions are the ones developed by young start-up companies, like the Sardinian Autentico, that employs “Near Field Communication” (NFC) technology to prevent Italian products’ counterfeiting.
Another field, in which Italy is leading the way, is the implementation of eco-friendly, low-impact technologies, able to revolutionize our lives and, at the same time, preserving our planet, in other words the “green tech.”
The Sardinian start-up company, Veranu, is working in this direction, by perfecting a smart floor with piezoelectric properties. Soon, we will be able to generate clean energy by simply walking about our homes’ floorboards.
After a greatly successful first edition last October at the Italian Embassy in London, the networking event for “start-uppers,” Sardinia Goes Global, brought together these two innovators for the second edition, held at the Italian Cultural Institute (IIC) in Los Angeles on June 9th, with the support of the Consulate General and the Italian Trade Agency (ICE).
One of the main facilitators was the international venture incubator, Clhub (whose name comes from the merge of the words, “Club” + “Hub” + “Lab”), that officially launched its US operation in that occasion.
The company - headquartered in Cagliari, Sardinia, with offices in Milan, Lombardy, and coming soon in California - aims to expand locally its network of business relationships, but also to attract foreign investors to Sardinia and Italy as a whole.
Sardinia Goes Global has been also possible thanks to the partnership between several other preeminent organizations, the above mentioned Consulate General of Italy, ICE and IIC, as well as Westport Construction Inc. and the Los Angeles Venture Association (LAVA).
A perfect business match to Clhub was the LAVA, that, since 1985, has been providing forums where entrepreneurs and executives of start-up, emerging growth and late stage venture funded companies, actively meet and learn from fellow executives, investors, bankers, financial advisors and other providers of professional services.
Let’s hear first some introductory words by Consul General Antonio Verde:
“What really is remarkable, is that Italy has not only a number of young, very talented and creative start-up companies, but also those entities, like ‘Clhub’ and ICE’s ‘Innovation Desk,’ that step-by-step nurture their growth.
In fact, despite Italian creativity remains our biggest asset, every start-up company sooner or later comes to a point where it needs resources to put to fruition its trailblazing and life-changing projects.”
Here’s the role played by the Italian Trade Agency (ICE) of L.A., in the words of Guido Cattabianchi, in charge of the organization’s “Innovation Desk:”
“Our trade promotion agency is in charge of startups, innovation, and investments for the West Coast of the United States.
For the groundwork of ‘Sardinia Goes Global’ we not only provided logistics support, but also liaised with institutions and other key players active in Los Angele’s startup landscape to promote the event and secure attendance.”
Here is Giovanni Sanna, CEO of Clhub, explaining us how the idea for this amazing start-up incubator came to be.
“Clhub started in 2015 with the intention of bringing our know-how, developed in the US, back to Sardinia and the Italian peninsula, where we scouted for the best innovation ideas and, then, helped turn them into international companies.
Since the beginning, we created the platform to support young entrepreneurs with a dedicated incubation program to develop and grow their ideas and add the right ‘ingredients’ to success.
At this stage we have created an extensive and important network and the right base to add many startups in the coming years.”
Electronic engineer Alessio Calcagni, CEO of Veranu, communicated us his enthusiasm for “green tech” and “green energy:”
“I’ve been working on pressure sensors with piezoelectric materials. As I was developing my research project for my MS in Engineering, I had the chance to experience the fabulous world of organic electronics that has its roots in the use of materials with carbon and hydrogen (like the piezoelectric ones).
The main aspect is that it is possible to come up with green applications among these new frontier of electronics. In fact, I realized how the piezoelectric material used for my thesis could generate a signal made up of energy…a green and clean one!
If I combine this discovery with my eco-friendly lifestyle and respect to the environment, that shall explain how Veranu was born.”
Alessio, then, went on retracing with us the steps that led to the birth of Veranu:
“At first, I was alone in the development of my idea: to generate energy by footsteps. An apparently simple concept, but somehow disruptive and innovative. Soon I realized that my skills were not enough to go on with the implementation of it.
For this reason, I shared my idea with my university colleagues, Simone Mastrogiacomo and Giorgio Leoni first, and Nicola Mereu afterwards. As my idea became the team’s one, the concept of ‘Veranu’ was finally born.
In Italy, we took part to the ‘Edison Start’ award competition (June 2014), then to the ‘Start Cup Sardegna’ (October 2014), in which we made it to the final and to important international meetings, such as the ‘Green Innovation and Investment Forum’ (held in Stuttgart in February 2015) and the ‘Table of Investors’ powered by ‘Build it up’ (May 2015).
But the most important acceleration in our project occurred in April 2016, during the first ‘Startup Battle’ powered by ‘Clhub.’ In fact, we won the competition and, right away, we started our ‘incubation’ with that venture incubator.
In six months, we became startup foundation, we deposited the Italian patent demand and we presented our second prototype in a prime innovation fair (‘Sinnova 2016’, Cagliari, Sardinia).
At this point our team is constantly growing with resources, provided by the CFO Giovanni Sanna and the rest of Clhub’s management team. We are improving our product’s efficiency and performance and soon it will be possible to have a walk on our smart floors.
To me and my team, Veranu is first of all a dream come true, but also a business to feed until it will become an innovative product, by which everyone can walk and generate green energy.”
And now it’s time to hear from Diego Lai, CTO and co-founder of Autentico:
“‘Autentico’ is our solution to the grey market of counterfeit food, wine and fashion. It is based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and the application of the NFC tag in the product label.
Applying the tag is just the first step. Our startup company is a complete IT-platform, with lots of features: NFC Tag Application Service by the Insert Label Machine, the Autentico’s app and a complete Reserved Area to manage your own production.
Every smartphone provided with a NFC reader can use our app. It doesn’t need to be connected to the Internet: thanks to the integrated cryptographic system, the app is always able to recognize the NFC Tag. Just by touching lightly the label containing the NFC Tag, the Autentico App will be able to show you the information about the product and its authenticity.
One of our main features is the Tag Application Service with the Insert Label Machine. If the product is already labelled, like a bottle of wine or olive oil bottle, we apply the DNA Tag on your own labels with our Insert Label Machine. In this way, you won’t need to change your production chain, neither to furtherly train your technicians.
The labelling process with the DNA Tag is carried out by our team. The producers (wineries or oil mills) won’t need to make any change in their production chain. This innovation allows the implementation of the NFC technology with low budget and it’s independent from the amount of products per year.”
In conclusion, here is, in a nutshell, Diego Lai’s presentation at the first L.A.’s Sardinia Goes Global:
“‘Autentico’ is a solution in progress, a simple idea developed into a real platform where our customers became at the same time consultants and testers thanks to their competition.
It is important to emphasize how this solution was born from a real customer need and, for this reason, we can grow together. We firmly believe that Autentico can become a standard to stop fake product and grey market.”