Is Italy the new Silicon Valley? While there are still a number of contenders for this title (including the actual Silicon Valley), the startup scene in Italy is certainly growing fast, with several interesting new enterprises cropping up every year. We have been keeping an eye on some of them and so should you. Innovative new technologies, services and products are being created, that might shape our future environment. The most remarkable startup projects this year have been focusing on sustainability and on efficient communication and data management. There are dozens of Italian startups you should be looking out for this year. We selected our top four.
The Italian startup scene is booming! Check out these innovators
This startup’s ambitious goal is to innovate and revolutionise rail transport, making it more sustainable and offering a viable alternative to the current way of building railroad, specifically railroad ties. This specific component is usually made of wood or pre-stressed concrete, but the engineers at GreenRail have developed a new design, based on a concrete structure covered in a new material obtained from recycled plastics and used tires. While maintaining all the physical characteristics required for safe use on railroads, GreenRail ties require less maintenance, are more resistant and durable and would allow to reuse up to 35 tons of plastics and tires for each Km of railway line. This fine engineering project has been in the workings since 2012 and is currently being managed by a young and bright team, with offices in Rome and Milan.
The sustainability of agriculture is one of the hot topics of our times: innovating the oldest industry in human history is possibly the most important mission of our generation. Agriculture is the source of most of our food as a species, but it also plays a significant part in our exploitation of the planet. Veve is an Italian startup operating in this exciting field. Specifically, they are attempting to bring agricultural innovation to consumer level. The brand name stands for “Vertical Veggie”. Veve’s product is a domestic appliance that allows users to grow 200 plants (the equivalent of a 20 square-meter patch of land) in one square-meter. This is made possible by the use of aeroponics, a process whereby plants are grown without the use of soil using water and mist circulating through the system. Veve’s product is currently priced at around 1500€, but the cost is balanced against its excellent production rates – estimated around 200 kg of vegetables per year, using 90% less water than traditional agriculture. Veve allows users to produce literally home-grown vegetables in a zero-waste system. Considering how our individual carbon footprint is significantly impacted by the long-distance circulation of vegetables that come in non-recyclable plastic wrappings, it is easy to see how conscious consumers might be drawn to Veve on both ethical and financial grounds.
A few months ago, we interviewed Gianluca Segato, a young startupper and founder of Uniwhere. This app continues to be a raging success among Italian university students, allowing users to access all of the relevant information on their academic career from one app. If you are looking for the next big thing in the app market, this innovative system could be it: it is efficient, simple, hip and perfectly targeted. In short, it has all it takes to expand into different systems and achieve international success.
Mystery shoppers are not exactly a recent invention, but Gian Luca Petrelli – founder of BeMyEye – took the idea a few step farther. BeMyEye is an app that allows brands to connect to users directly, so that anyone can carry out simple checks for different brands, in exchange for small payments. Geolocalisation and photos are used as proof that the required mission has been accomplished. The app currently counts a network of 400.000 users all over Europe, checking on product launches, brand promotion, product displaying and customer assistance. Geolocalisation makes it viable for users, who might just take advantage of missions in their immediate surroundings, while allowing brands to keep their expenses reasonably low (missions are usually priced between 4€ and 8€).