In the 1960s it was a small company. He sold tractors in the south, from his headquarters in Puglia. Today it is a large company with ramifications in the aerospace, rail, mobility, digital payments and cyber security industries. Three generations of entrepreneurs have transformed what was Meridional Meccanica into Angel Holding, for which 1,750 people work, 1,200 engineers, divided into 12 main companies with more than 40 offices in 20 countries.
From the high-tech systems for the analysis of the railway infrastructure of Mermec, customers in 60 countries with recently signed contracts in Japan, Singapore and Spain, to the satellites of Sitael which collaborates with the European Space Agency (ESA) among others , NASA, Virgin Orbit and Galactic by Richard Branson. Up to the Matipay startups that transform vending machines into intelligent points of sale or the Vaimoo micro-mobility platform.
«Choosing rapidly expanding markets and having solutions that are not easily replicable, this is how we managed to grow», says Matteo Pertosa in a video link from Monopoli. At the age of 35, he is the grandson of the founder, Angelo, and is currently in charge of one of the three large macro-areas of the group, Angel4Future, specialized in what they call “digital mechanics”, starting with solutions related to electric bike services for transport. of people and goods. “Sectors such as aerospace, electric mobility, the Internet of things, cybersecurity that have had extraordinary growth and that will most likely hold the ground for at least the next ten years”.
The heart of Angel Holding is on the Apulian coast between Monopoli and Mola di Bari. Not exactly the place where one would expect such a concentration of ideas and technological solutions. The company has several research centers, but it is in the south that the strategies are built. At the Sitael headquarters, a few hundred meters from the sea, for example, they have developed some of the most efficient electric motors for satellites in circulation and collaborate with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) on the Platino project, multi-application satellites that have just 200 kilos of mass for earth observation. They will begin to be sent into orbit starting next year.
“One of the applications we are developing is a new mini antenna called Mosaic for data transfer,” continues Pertosa.
«The dimensions are roughly the size of a box for carrying a pizza. It is capable of capturing all the frequencies of telecommunications satellites of the last 50 years, both low and high orbit. This means that they are also compatible with the new constellations for connecting to the SpaceX or OneWeb network ». Allowing a stable connection and having small dimensions, they can be installed on cars, trucks, boats, airplanes. And in fact they also open the doors to more accurate autonomous driving than the current one, which is managed only by on-board computers thanks to constant monitoring of vehicles and their position.
The Pertosa have also succeeded in broad phrases in the so-called sharing mobility between Copenhagen, Rotterdam and recently Stockholm, with the e-bike platform Vaimoo, which won an Innovation Awards at the last Consumer Electronics Show (Ces) in Las Vegas. It is not just about connected electric bikes, but a complete system that has among its elements both the app for users and a cloud service that integrates with that of existing transport, from buses to the metro to trains. It has a hybrid installation mode, with physical stations (docked) and free-floating parking, guaranteeing administrations a certain flexibility of use. And to think that it is a solution born in 2017 for a competition held in Bari which then took shape only this year between a delay and another. Instead of waiting for the times of Italy, from Mola di Bari they looked beyond the border, proposing themselves to northern Europe.
“Our country is full of excellent innovative companies, some led by people of a certain age as well as young ones”, concludes the Apulian entrepreneur. «Yet in order to try to become big, you have to look outside, at foreign markets, and take risks starting, however, from solutions that have something unique. To do this, it can take several generations, which sometimes replace one another and sometimes overlap. The important thing is that each one adds something more without necessarily overlapping or hindering each other ».
Easier said than in sentences of course. But in Puglia, at Angel Holding, they seem to have succeeded so far. Merit, one might say, of a startup mentality kept alive at the age of sixty.