ICT FVG: GROWING, QUALIFIED, ALONGSIDE COMPANIES DURING THE PANDEMIC

A well-diversified sector in terms of the outlet sectors served, with the forecast of a positive sales volume, in tune with the history of the last decade when, from 2009 to 2019, this world grew by 8.8% in terms of active locations and consolidated the expansion paths of the companies born in the early 2000s, the golden age of “dot.com” companies.

This is how the ICT entrepreneurship in Friuli Venezia Giulia is presented in “FVG Digitale – Le imprese digitali in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Report 2021”, the first systematic report dedicated to this area promoted by the Ditedi Cluster, realized with a joint work between professors of the University of Udine and the University of Trieste and whose presentation is scheduled for Thursday, July 8, at 5 pm online at .

at www.fvgdigitale.ditedi.it.
The document analyzes in the multiplicity of its aspects a sector that became even more crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey at the base of the Report involved about one hundred ICT companies in Friuli Venezia Giulia, active in the production of hardware, software and services. The data were collected through a survey between July and November 2020 acting on a large scale – companies with turnover between 250 thousand and 50 million euros -, which were accompanied by twelve in-depth interviews to as many entrepreneurs.

The picture that emerges from the report is very varied. From the point of view of human resources, the ICT sector stands out for the high presence of personnel with a high level of education, with an average percentage of 36.1% of employees in the sample. Degrees in IT disciplines (present in 70% of companies) and economic/legal disciplines (present in 40% of companies) prevail, but specializations in humanistic areas are also evident, present in 30% of companies. Few women still work in the sector; within the sample surveyed, on average, they account for 19.5%. A low figure, but still in line with the values recorded at European level (European Commission (2021), Women in Digital Scoreboard 2020, https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/library/ women-digital-scoreboard-2020).

Companies with between 10 and 25 employees represent the largest group (44.2%), but the component of medium-large companies (with more than 50 employees) is also significant, i.e. 9.3%. Forty-two percent of the average turnover is produced in the region, 48.4 percent in the rest of the Italian market, while direct export represents less than 10 percent.

“The work carried out by the professors of the Universities of Udine and Trieste is fundamental to understand the state of the art of the Ictregional sector – says the project manager of the Cluster, Francesco Contin – We wanted to take a picture of what exists, also in the light of the impact that Covid-19 has had on the economy. The analysis conducted has allowed us to better frame the size and economic scope of the sector, investigating the dynamics of growth and strategies for approaching the market, and provides us with some food for thought that will be useful in setting up future support actions and intervention policies”. Among these, above all, “the training of the new generations, also and above all female – continues the director -, with still few high school and university graduates to meet the current and future needs of companies and the managerial training of entrepreneurs themselves that affects the dynamics of growth and internationalization of companies and the ability to attract and enhance the skills and talents available, through corporate welfare and staff retention policies, for example”.

The Report also focuses on the behavior of ICT companies during the period of the pandemic, to conclude that with regard to the business model in this period companies seem to have played “in defense”, marginally modifying their model. Instead they have played “on the attack” alongside their customers, helping them to rethink their ways of working and selling remotely.

The report promoted by Diredi is the first of its kind and is destined to be followed up. “With the support of Regione Fvg, Ditedi has the intention and the objective of not leaving this event isolated – confirms Contin -, but of continuing with the activity of analysis, deepening some points and aspects of the study carried out. The idea is to create a fixed appointment (annual or biennial) to monitor the state of health and the growth of the sector and to bring out the points of excellence and the needs of regional ICT companies”

NAUTICAL ACADEMY OF TRIESTE, IN SEARCH OF NEW ‘SAILORS’

The Nautical Academy of the Adriatic, born in 2015 in Trieste, currently the busiest port in the country, as an Its dedicated to high professional training in the port maritime sector, continues its rise. And its students after training easily find work being often already recruited during the training period. So much so that this year, in addition to the courses that have already begun and are already well established, there will be a course on cyber security.
These are the courses that will start in October of this year: the one for train drivers at the headquarters of Gorizia, for technicians for logistics, in Trieste and Pordenone, for technicians of naval design and production, in Trieste, for trainee officers of deck and machine, in Trieste, and, the novelty, the one for systems expert in cybersecurity, in Trieste.
“The academy – explained the director of the educational institution in Trieste, Bruno Zvech – is certainly a key element in the port cluster of Trieste, inserted in a region, Friuli Venezia Giulia, which is a formidable logistics platform. We speak of a cluster to the vanguard and to the step with the times that follows with attention the next-future developments tied to the energetic efficiency, to the computer game, passing for the automation and the robotizzazione. In this context – it has continued Zvech – the academy carries out its role of formative infrastructure of high range with a national breath, above all tied up to the Adriatic, because there are not many similar realities in our Country”.
A sector, the maritime port one, which, as explained by Zvech, “despite the very difficult period linked to the pandemic, has held up, indeed I must say that from the point of view of intermodality, the logistics mechanism in this country has been able to hold up, with wide margins for future development.
And in the face of this current and future development, it goes without saying that there will be an increasing need for highly specialized personnel, with a very high demand for technicians. Therefore, the validity of our mission is confirmed”. The Academy debuted over six years ago with the deck officer cadet course, which is increasingly involved in interesting developments: “at the moment – explained the director of the academy – we are getting positive feedback regarding the embarkation of our students on passenger ships.
This is also an evolution because until now we only did the merchant with Italy Maritime that is our main partner. Another successful course is the one that trains technicians for logistics, which is held in Trieste and Pordenone Interport, one of the most important infrastructures in the northeast, where the railway operator Upac operates and with whom excellent relations have been established.
Other courses that represent the backbone of the Trieste institution are the course for designers, created at the instigation of Fincantieri but which then expanded to include collaboration with a large number of professionals, and finally, the last course created last year, for shunting line railway drivers, which is based in Gorizia and which has met with considerable success: “With our partner Adriafer – explained Zvech – we are managing continuous permanent training”. Now for the director of the Academy “it is necessary to sound out new areas.
And for this reason, we will start with a two-year course for system technicians of cyber security, which will be coordinated by Ivano Di Santo, cyber security officer of the Port Authority of the Eastern Adriatic, and we have already set up a network of high-level teachers. Half of the course will be held in English”.
As proof of the strong interregional projection of the Academy, 18 apartments for a total of 34 beds are available for “off-site” students in two buildings in the historic center of Trieste, a few meters from the sea and not far from the Academy’s headquarters in Via von Bruck, a stone’s throw from the Port Authoriy. In addition, the status of the students is equivalent to that of a university student, with discounts on transportation, cinema, theater, use of libraries, as well as the agreement for meals in affiliated establishments.

FARMING: NEVER AGAIN WITHOUT AI

An agriculture 4.0, more and more advanced and attentive to sustainability. This is one of the missions of the Digital Innovation Hub for Agriculture and Food Production – DIH Agrifood, a digital cluster connected to agriculture that is based in Murska Sobota, Slovenia, and that for the last six months has included among its members Video Systems of Codroipo (Udine), active in the field of vision and artificial intelligence and in quality and process control.
“In this cluster – explains Alessandro Liani, CEO and R&D technical director of the Friuli-based company – they have begun to map all the European realities that produce digital technology for the world of agriculture. A large geolocalized database has been created so that the agricultural sector and related research can interact and fully understand the potential that exists in Europe. The cluster is becoming a sort of European reference for the digitalization of the agricultural and food world. The advantages that can derive from the digitalization of production processes in the agricultural sector lie, according to Liani, “above all in the possibility of collecting data that can be used for future analysis. This means the possibility of setting up predictive systems that allow, over time, to improve the production process. Moreover, the digitalization of processes, besides optimizing them, leads to a reduction in process costs. We have already experienced this in the industrial manufacturing sector and in the same way this will also impact the agricultural sector, perhaps with even more important repercussions given that processes have even higher margins for improvement”. Moreover, a better management of natural resources is foreseen, i.e. a better use of the land and a saving of water: “predictive treatments, possible through data analysis, will allow to improve production processes, replacing the programmed ones.” Video Systems brings to the cluster its experience gained over the years: “For years – underlines Liani – we have been developing some technologies that can be used in the agri-food sector. In 2007, for example, we developed systems for the automatic search of white asparagus on, in collaboration with a farm in the Prata di Pordenone area, which led to the creation of a robot that runs between the rows, recognizes the white asparagus and automatically extracts it. In this case, we only dealt with the part related to artificial vision, while the robotic and mechanical part of the rover was developed by another company”. Over the years there have been further developments: “from 2014 to 2018 we have been involved – always Liani – in projects in the field of aquaculture, in particular with regard to the selection of fry, through a system, made by us in its entirety, through which the fry end up on a ribbon, are photographed on both sides for the recognition of the caliber and to trace those that may have morphological malformations, in order to eliminate the non-compliant fry from the production cycle before its maturation. The idea is to make a selection as soon as possible in order to have a production that has an impact on energy and resources as limited as possible. I want to underline – remarks Liani – that we have reached a product selection capacity of over 95%, a very good percentage”. But which are the users and therefore the potential customers? Certainly the immediate users, i.e. large agricultural companies and those linked to aquaculture and fish farming. But not only: “we are trying to intercept the manufacturers of machines in the agro-alimentary sector.

VLADIMIR PUTIN IN FVG ON VACATION?

Could Vladimir Putin be interested in spending a vacation in Friuli Venezia Giulia? Carlo Dall’Ava (in the pic by Anna Airone), who is Russian honorary consul in Udine, confirms:’Certainly yes. I will do it through the Russian diplomats in Italy. He loves water torrents very much, and practicing in them the different possible sports, as well as he likes forests. Fvg could be very suitable for him”. Putin was born in 1952, and he is president of Russian Federation since 2012. Carlo Dall’Ava is Russian honorary consul in Udine since 2013. Val Resia has been called ‘the small Russian country of Italy’, because of the linguistic link between Resian and Russian.

Pandemic. The customs that arose during and after the pandemic, with the associated lockdowns, created a new ‘luxury’. But what is luxury? Many say that it is, in a nutshell, the time we have available. The time we have left to live. The raging death by Covid has perhaps made us more appreciative of our time and how best to spend it. Time that must be of quality. Carlo Dall’Ava, a well-known entrepreneur linked to the production of the well-known prosciutto in San Daniele del Friuli (Ud), confirms how and how much, in this historical moment, Friuli Venezia Giulia can be better and even more appreciated. How? And above all, why more now, than before? Because it is still a ‘wild’ region and in many ways, not yet explored, as it could be. Few inhabitants on a particularly extensive territory between sea, mountains and hills.

Today, more than ever, luxury is represented by enjoying one’s time in unique environments, little frequented. Services are lacking in some places. Even if things are improving. Then there is everything that can fulfill this prevailing desire to enjoy one’s own vacation time, in the beauty of nature, eating well, and far from mass attendance. A new sobriety of living the time of leisure, the so-called free time. The concept of free time is perhaps an obsolete one. All time, even working time, should be under the banner of quality and freedom.