Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pavia and a Silicon Valley in Italy

I have made no mystery that one of my goals in life is to see a Silicon Valley in Italy. When we founded Funambol, it was just an abstract idea, but year after year it is taking shape. We are just at the beginning, but I am starting to see all the elements coming together: entrepreneurs, universities and investors. That is what has made Silicon Valley the place it is today (quite hot, I might say...). Once you put the three elements together and with the right mentality, it can happen.

One significant step towards an Italian Silicon Valley is seeing Silicon Valley companies opening R&D centers in Italy. This week Marvell (a $10B semiconductor company based in Santa Clara) has opened a chip design center in Pavia. Of all places, the same town where the Funambol R&D is based (and where ST Microelectronics has always had a strong presence). A great sign for the Engineering department of my Alma Mater and an indication things are progressing in the right direction. I found out through the press release that the center is managed by Francesco Rezzi, a guy I used to drive to school every day as a freshman: I was the one with a car and he was a senior of the Almo Collegio Borromeo where I spent five of the best years of my life. He was known as "the tractor" for his unstoppable focus on the books. Small world...

Anyway, great news for the Silicon Valley in Italy movement. This afternoon I am meeting with the Italian Ambassador to the US, Giovanni Castellaneta. I was honored to be chosen to present in front of him, together with a group of people I admire greatly:
Luigi Luca Cavalli Sforza (one of the great fathers of Genetics), Federico Faggin (the inventor of the microprocessor) and Giacomo Marini (one of the founders of Logitech). I am a bit younger than everybody else ;-) and miles from reaching their levels, but I will do my best to suggest to the Ambassador a possible path to a Silicon Valley in Italy. I know it is possible and I am sure we will get there one day.