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Innovation full throttle: an interview with Riccardo Paterni

Innovation full throttleThe avant-garde project of the Motorsport University is coming to life.

As future director of the  Giovanni Alberto Agnelli racetrack, Walter Sciacca‘s statements on a racetrack which will open in September 2015 are recent. It is a structure which will bring with it not only passion but a concrete breath of fresh air and innovation in a world – the world of motorsport – which has always been a passion for thousands of people.

It is a question of innovation but also of development and investment: the Pontedera Racetrack will bea at the heart of an important partnership between the Pont-Tech industrial Estate and MOVET, the Sant’Anna Technological Estate in Pontedera and the Navacchio Technological Estate, all of which are avant-garde technological centres, and Pisa University which has always been involved in the motorsport world thanks to ongoing research which has brought important initiatives to fruition.
At a historic juncture like this one, investing in avant-garde projects means gambling on the future with proposals which are destined to change past business models and overturn them.

Projects and theories but also forward thinking, the future Pontedera Racetrack is also featuring in a book which will generate featuring many stimuli on the future of innovation in our business and organizations.
The author of the book Innovazione A tutto gas. Da Cento Anni di Motorsport il Carburante all’Innovazione in Azienda (Innovation full throttle. From One Hundred Years of Motorsport Fuel for Company Innovation) Riccardo Paterni (innovazionetuttogas.it, Edizioni Lifeplan 2013, international edition in early 2015) is an expert in innovation and internationalisation. His vision aims to help companies breathe life into and bring to fruition processes of added value generation in social and economic contexts in constant evolution.

Riccardo, in your book you articulate that innovation consists in creativity that generates added value in the perceptions of the market of reference. How will the future Pontedera racetrack promote innovation in this sense?

From this point of view the project encompasses key factors which will make it an innovation point of reference in the field: Walter Sciacca’s professionalism and experience in the field to define and understand the reference market are unquestionable. The creative aspect comes from his vision, his ability to bring together synergies, ideas and planning from individuals and organisations in a range different contexts. In this sense it was a great pleasure for me to see that the project’s basic framework reflects the research and analysis set out in my last book.

You are giving seminars in Italy on ‘Internationalisation for growth’. Will the project that Walter Sciacca is working on generate new successful opportunities for Italy?

A project of this sort is extremely interesting in the internationalisation context too. Internationalisation means dealing with foreign countries in terms of products and services but it is not only this. It also means vision and the ability to make excellence level Made in Italy know how valued. In this context the Pontedera racetrack has everything needed to make it a reference point in generating opportunities for the planning aspects we talked about before. It can become a know how and geographical engine for development. It has everything it takes to become a winning business model on both the local and international levels. Other business projects and companies can find inspiration and insights in this. In the current economic climate in Italy there is a great need for concrete projects with open and positive visions.

The Pontedera racetrack project is marshalling the energies of various development organisations all fully operative and capable of generating quality. Do you think that all this will lead to the creation of a single new body or will each organisation retain its own autonomy?

The racetrack has the potential to channel ideas, experiences and projects belonging to various contexts and in so doing it will be able to increase the overall value. I believe that working together like this can become a symbol for integrated projects but it is inevitable that each entity will maintain its own autonomy. The simple fact of having managed to generate joint synergies is a great achievement for the project in itself.

In a recent interview Sciacca stated that the goal of the Pontedera Racetrack is to create an innovative structure in the area from the training and manufacturing points of view. Are these the true premises for a practical future for the motorsport and car sector in Italy?

There is no doubt that the project’s innovative features have the potential to create new strategic and operational reference points as the basis for progress in both the car and motor sport fields from various points of view and above all in reference to direct relationships between motorsport training and operational activities which will be able to take place in one venue. Specifically the direct and active participation of research and development bodies can contribute tangibly to this. The synergy and integration of diverse organisations and projects aspect will certainly also be a winning card.

It is an ambitious project which conjures up dreams of possible futures for Italy. Do you think that this initiative can get young people enthusiastic?

Young people need to see new projects developing in which a concrete and practical vision of the future is evident, projects that beyond providing direct and practicable opportunities, can also inspire a new way of working which exalts sharing and synergy over sterile individualism. The Pontedera racetrack has everything it takes to become a reference point in this too. It is also worth noting that the racetrack’s geographical context is one which has an excellent university, research and development tradition training talented individuals who are well-known to be on a par with their contemporaries in places like Silicon Valley in terms of ability and creativity. The racetrack and Sciacca’s vision will be a tangible extra opportunity for these talented people.

One last question. You are Talent Manager at Pisa University’s International MBA. Do you think that people like Sciacca can be an example to young people wanting to get involved in the motorsport world with a solid training? Do you think this is a practicable idea?

Our MBA is an intensive year long course which takes 30 students every year with concrete professional experience under their belts and from all around the world. It will be on its sixth year in 2015 and is a highly international programme not only in terms of students but also in terms of the professionals and professors involved. We are emphasizing many entrepreneurial and innovative aspects currently needed all over the world. I believe that people like Walter Sciacca can not only be a reference point for young people wanting to get into the motorsport world but also for those who want to measure up to a management style which is truly global in vision and capable of catalysing project synergies and bringing them to fruition. It will be a pleasure to be able to offer MBA students the opportunity to interact with Sciacca, get to know the managerial aspects of motorsport better and make contact with the project in tangible terms. It is worth noting that the complex and rapidly changing motorsport sector is a thought provoking analysis workshop for identifying innovation reference points in a range of sectors. It is precisely for this reason that I wanted to provide practical insights in my book for innovation drawn from motorsport anecdotes and stories. It will be a great pleasure to contribute to disseminating and exemplifying the Pontedera racetrack project’s spirit of innovation with the international edition of this book.

Texts by Marco Lasala

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