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Bridges to Italy has launched as a first-of-its-kind economic development organization focused on helping Southern California entrepreneurs, researchers and investors pursue new business opportunities with their colleagues in Italy and throughout the world.
The nonprofit organization will foster cooperation and collaboration through an ongoing series of networking events that highlight Italy's emerging technology sectors. The first such event was held February 25th at UC Irvine, and introduced business leaders from Southern California and throughout the US to some of Italy's most renowned biotechnology pioneers.
Among the presenters was infectious disease expert Dr. Giorgio Mosconi, who discussed how he worked with US partners to transform his tiny biotech firm -- Biosearch Italia -- into a powerhouse that sold to Pfizer for $1.9 billion. His presentation titled "Italian biotech, ready to launch?" further highlighted opportunities afforded by Italy's emerging biotechnology sector. Also presenting was UC Irvine Professor Daniele Piomelli, who discussed a range of collaboration opportunities for US business and science ventures to work with the newly established Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). The event was hosted by UC Irvine's Department of Pharmacology, and sponsored by Irvine-based intellectual property law firm Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, LLP.
"The goal of Bridges to Italy is to help business and research leaders in Southern California connect one-on-one with their foreign colleagues to build successful new ventures in the technology sector," said Bridges to Italy founder Bianca Dellepiane. "Information and personal relationships are the building blocks of international business collaboration."
Bridges to Italy events present information about business, research and investment opportunities in a format that transcends language and cultural barriers. The organization's holistic approach to international business introduces Italian and US participants to each other's unique cultural, as well as business, resources and opportunities. This in turn helps its events attract a uniquely multicultural and multidisciplinary crowd. "We want to make learning about international business opportunities an approachable and even fun endeavor," Dellepiane explains.
The organization's other mission is to make Southern California's technology sectors better known internationally.
"When foreign business leaders, researchers and investors think about Southern California, they typically conjure up images of Hollywood and Disneyland... in other words entertainment and tourism. But when it comes to technology, they naturally tend to think about Silicon Valley, Massachusetts and other US centers of excellence," said Dellepaine. "We're determined to make sure Southern California's vast expertise and resources in high-tech fields such as biotechnology, IT and nanotech are recognized internationally."
The next Bridges to Italy event is scheduled for September, and will focus on business opportunities afforded by Italy's burgeoning "clean technology" sector. Italy has a long history of advancing innovative green technologies, from solar power to biofuels. Other future events will highlight opportunities in nanotechnology and telecommunications.
Ms. Dellepiane added that the Bridges to Italy organization will eventually expand its focus beyond Italy to include other nations that present US business leaders with exceptional opportunity. "The Bridges to Italy model will be expanded to become Bridges to Singapore, Bridges to Scandinavia, etc. Our dream is to eventually create a foundation to facilitate funding of scientific research all over the world."
Ms. Dellepiane is an international business expert who also serves as principal of PROMEST USA, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm that helps European, US and Latin American high tech business ventures launch and expand their international operations. Before founding PROMEST USA, Ms. Dellepiane managed US business development and promotional activities for the Italian Trade Commission's Los Angeles office. She is a native of Genoa, Italy and earned an MBA from the University of Southern California.
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