Sicily and innovation; not only crystalline sea and breath-taking landscapes but also technology, entrepreneurship, progress. This is the greatest challenge, to grow and be competitive. On Sicilian Secrets, we talk about that with Maurizio Giambalvo.
It’s innovation-kissed, so Sicily becomes more and more the centerpiece of new entrepreneurial scenarios and young initiatives. In 2018, the word start-up is no longer a neologism, is used in ordinary conversations and it means that something is changing.
For Sicilian Secrets I interviewed Maurizio Giambalvo, he’s from Palermo and has always dealt with social innovation and start-ups, as well as tourism in Sicily and sustainable tourism in Asia.
First question is almost obvious, why did you decide to get closer to start-up world and bet on something new, so uncertain?
A: «I have been motivated by the interest for the challenging, transforming and creative dimension that has any newborn company. I’m attracted by the speed that characterizes start-ups, but I don’t want to idealize this concept. I love even slow-growth models and many successful start-ups collected years of effort and sacrifices that often journalists don’t mention in their articles».
Unfortunately, when they talk about entrepreneurship, (too!) many times Sicily is considered as the tail end. For several years the island wasn’t able to get over the impasse but Giambalvo’s words sound encouraging: «Currently, thanks to some critical dynamics, maybe there’s enough space for a new entrepreneurial season that is more honest, creative and skilled», he points out.
«We need to underline that nowadays business is multiform. It’s important to look at the hybrid companies such as the ones that arose from associations. Moreover, in tourism industry many innovations evolve outside the traditional enterprises».
Sicily and innovation: what’s the current scenario?
«There are many and remarkable initiatives», he explains. «But it’s difficult to define what innovation in Sicily means, beyond rhetoric and stereotypes. Over the latest years, a material and immaterial system has been developed to help those people that have an idea and want to test them or be trained. This is a signal, of course. But the network of people, incubators and co-workings is still too weak and very limited. One of the best examples that I have in mind is the Cultural Farm in Favara. Its innovative energy and beauty are strictly related to the unusual place in which they have been located».
This is the picture of a growing Sicily that can and must do more. It’s the famous “should I stay, or should I go”, why young Sicilians should invest on their own ideas? Any advice?
«First of all, they shouldn’t be worried to tell and share them with other people. Potential is not in the idea but in its ability to create connections and strengthen social and professional relationship of the person who had it. And then it’s crucial to study, because without studying and skills, nothing becomes real».
Maurizio Giambalvo knows it well. Even his entrepreneurial idea was born almost randomly and for fun.
«visitpalermo.it», he says, «has slowly developed and unexpectedly resulted in the wild and exciting challenge of Wonderful Italy, thanks to a fund of impact investing. It’s an ecosystem that was born to tell and make accessible Italian splendor while offering hospitality in chosen apartment and authentic experiences in the most charming places in Italy. Whereas, Visit Palermo is a useful portal to get touristic tips and book accommodation in Palermo and in Sicily. Our mission is to allow people to explore, love and wish to visit or come back to our land. Our goal is to go beyond clichés, give accurate and updated information as well as the competence of a local and international staff that consists of people that deeply live and know Palermo».
Before saying goodbye, I’ve another question that honestly sounds more as a personal curiosity:
Q: Does your being Sicilian affect your job, and did it influence your professional decisions?
A: «Regarding the first question, I don’t think so. To travel a lot allowed me to understand that I’m very flexible, I’m a chameleon. But being Sicilian affected my choices. I decided to stay because I wanted to change what I didn’t like of Sicily. I believe that I haven’t do it yet, so I insist to stay».