Home » Turin, from automatic trolleys to 3D printers: let’s discover the innovation workshop

Turin, from automatic trolleys to 3D printers: let’s discover the innovation workshop

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Turin, from automatic trolleys to 3D printers: let’s discover the innovation workshop

Mini automatic trolleys turning in the corridors, 3D printers in action, monocoque bicycle frames hanging on special shelves, lit screens on which data after data flows. In Piedmont, a hotbed of start-ups, I3P is the mirror of an evolving world. From its headquarters overlooking the Ogr, the innovative business incubator of the Polytechnic of Turin anticipates the challenges of the future and welcomes the dawn of new technologies. An organism of approximately 3,000 square meters where everything moves. In recent months the agora room has been a bustle of students, as well as curious people and entrepreneurs, for the meetings of the “Scintille” event on the occasion of the 25 years of the incubator. Tuesday 16 April an exceptional guest: Angelo Gaja, the king of Barbaresco wine.

But it is between the rooms and in the co-working areas that ideas swarm. And the numbers prove it. Between 15 and 20 new start-ups are incubated every year. So there are at least sixty of them that gravitate around I3P. Which experienced a record-breaking 2023 with more than 53 million in investments attracted by companies within its fabric. A figure that could be even higher given that some operations are not yet completely closed. Almost 40% of the loot dates back to the maxi investment round obtained by Leaf Space, a company made in Como that provides connectivity and data collection services from satellites. Out of the over 900 business ideas analyzed in a year, 120 projects took root and 23 startups obtained incubation. And 2024 opened with 22 startuppers from ten companies – from Oris to Restworld, from Novac to Plino – born in I3P included in the list of the 100 best under 30 drawn up by Forbes.

The selection of projects, however, remains painstaking. Not only because behind it there are huge investments, consultancy and objectives set to guarantee a smooth launch ramp onto the market. But also due to the fact that investors are increasingly looking at specific sectors. As President Giuseppe Scellato explains, «the route for the future sees a focus on aerospace, eco-sustainability, blockchain, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence applied to industry and the medical field». Witness this is Focoos Ai, whose software that creates neural networks specialized in artificial vision on devices was awarded the 2023 national innovation award, as well as that of best start-up in the ICT area. Then Scellato takes stock of the work carried out: «The data from the last three years confirm a positive trend. Over 70 new start-ups were launched and private capital was raised for around 125 million euros.”

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Between one coffee and another, on the ground floor there are those who take stock of fundraising and company developments. Some, however, are already studying carefully when to launch their products on the market. From the windows of the offices on the upper floors, however, the construction sites of the future underground car park in Corso Castelfidardo stand out. The work is progressing. For director Paola Mogliotti, the state of the art of I3P reverberates: «On the one hand, there are prospects for improving and expanding the activities – she says – which makes everything more attractive and effective in our work. On the other hand, we can see there are investments in new things, as are these spaces under construction: closer to people and to those who frequent the university campus.”

For each room, whether it is a work room or a laboratory, there is a plaque posted next to the door with the company name. Alba Robot has also been present since 2020, recognized by I3P as a start-up of 2023. An award both for the definition of self-driving micro vehicles that transport fragile people in short distances inside airports, hospitals and museums both for the July round and raised 2.6 million euros. «From April 29th we will be at the Michigan airport to test these vehicles – explains the product manager of Alba Robot, Lorenzo Sabaini -. We help airports manage peak crowds and baggage transport. Today there are 27 of us in the company, a number that has grown year after year.” From which airports do the most requests arrive? «From the international hubs because every year there is an increase in passengers between 10 and 15% and, at the same time, there is a certain difficulty in finding staff».

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On the walls of Dropper, a startup that develops intelligent sensors to monitor public spaces pre-incubated in 2018, the sign “You only have two eyes, protect them” is attached. From his seat, the CEO Domenico Galdiero looks at him amusedly. In the tables collected on the PC there are all the anonymous data in the form of reddish clouds that record the influx and movement of people.

«They are useful for the energy efficiency of large buildings – says Galdiero -, where savings are 10-15% per year in terms of air conditioning, heating and lighting. The next step will be to connect this with the computer system that manages the air conditioners.” But Dropper has already brought home some results. Like the creation of sensors to measure the noise of the nightlife in the San Salvario district. In addition to a growth in staff from two to ten employees in six years.

Another frontier being explored is the medical field. And Francesco Trovato, founder of Paperbox Health, a company founded in 2022 that deals with identifying specific childhood learning disorders, is one of the names promoted by Forbes. «We are developing a video game, still in the pre-commercial phase, to diagnose the development of DSA in children two years in advance – says Trovato -. Faced with underdiagnosis in 60% of cases and delays in discovering disorders, the demand for support is growing. A video game is the best way to interact with a minor.” What outlets is this market creating? «This is not an easy market – continues Trovato – in which clinical validation of the product is needed like a cardiac pacemaker. Step by step, we are trying to get closer to specialists – from psychologists to child psychiatrists, to speech therapists – and to schools.”

For the mobility chapter, bicycles make their way. In the room of the Gregario start-up, carbon or aluminum handlebars and frames are the order of the day. They are monocoque and tailor-made and set aside the standard size thanks to a single mold. They have shiny and very black blades. «For now it is a niche in the sports sector – says founder Salvatore Botrugno – which presents bicycles costing around 15 thousand euros. But we also provide design consultancy, reliability analysis and technical development to medium and large bike-in-sharing companies. Taiwan is the beating heart of bicycles in the world, but we decided to focus on Turin to bring our production to Italy and create a supply chain.”

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