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Carlo Ferro, president of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA-ICE), is upbeat about the country’s trade prospects. With a 2019/2020 goal to double the number of Italian companies involved in systematic exports, he told The Japan Times via email, digitalization of the nation’s offer and the support of youth and innovative startups are key.

While the Global Startup Program (GSP) organized by ITA-ICE in conjunction with Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development is an important government initiative, launched, in part, to stave off youth unemployment, it is just one of the agency’s important foci according to Ferro.

Commenting on the GSP’s success in countries as diverse as Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Slovenia, Ferro noted that information gathered from the respective host countries would be used to “fine tune programs to accelerate the pace of Italian startups’ growth.”

“We have monitored the activities and challenges that Italian startups have faced in all countries throughout the program. Reputable incubators were also chosen in all countries to guide the startups toward the goal of getting investments or (starting) businesses in respective countries,” he said.

Italian investment sectors in which Ferro sees as performing strongly include aerospace, agrifoods, automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, the green economy, electronics, information and communication technology, infrastructure, life sciences, machinery and real estate.

“Real estate is especially attractive because government agencies are starting to bring different types of properties into the market. Investors can choose real estate opportunities based on the size and location they wish in almost any city in Italy,” Ferro said.

“Digitalizing our offer through e-commerce, boosting the protection (of the) Made in Italy (brand) and work on big data are all ITA-ICE priorities,” he said.

“(Specifically) we are signing a series of agreements with digital marketplaces like Amazon (in the U.S., Germany, France, Spain and U.K. markets) or J.D. (China) to allow our companies to access virtual storefronts,” Ferro said. It is envisaged that relevant companies will then “create a department to develop solutions for product traceability using (for example) blockchains and digital labels,” Ferro said.

Download the PDF of this Global Startup Program