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Elkann and Collison: The opportunity for innovation is now Europe “

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Elkann and Collison: The opportunity for innovation is now Europe “

“There are times in history when changes happen faster. Today we are experiencing one of those moments. Nobody can rest on the successes achieved. The companies destined to stay are those able to continue doing things in tune with the future ”. John Elkannpresident of Exor, on the stage of the Italian Tech Week gives the meaning of the two days in Turin in an interview with Patrick Collisonfounder of Stripe, moderated by Maurizio Molinari, director of La Repubblica. Forty-five minutes of dialogue in a packed room in the Duomo of the large repair shops.

An opportunity to take stock of how much the European innovation ecosystem has changed. Molinari at the opening of the panel asks entrepreneurs to remember their first meeting. Collison’s response captures a clear change of pace: “It was 2015. I could say we met seven years ago. Actually I should say that we met a lifetime ago, because today the European startup landscape has completely changed. Then we wondered what we could do. Today Europe has created 121 unicorns ”, in the vocabulary of the digital economy, innovative companies that have achieved a valuation of over one billion.

IT Week 2022, John Elkann (Exor) and Patrick Collison (Stripe) with Maurizio Molinari: ideas to understand the future

Exor, Stripe: the recipe for innovation

Concept reaffirmed by Elkann, who defines Europe today as “a fertile range of fantastic opportunities”. The engine is innovation. “Both of you are working on innovations that can last,” recalls Molinari, “Exor is investing more and more in startups. Stripe has built a global payments infrastructure. Is there a recipe for innovation? ”. “Unfortunately there is no recipe,” collison teases.

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“Stripe was born 12 years ago and is a payments infrastructure. What we do know is that in 2040 people will still need technologies that can improve this sector ”. Elkann leads a company with much older roots: “Our company has a history spanning three centuries. We know that innovating is necessary to evolve and open up to the future. This is why with Exor we have invested in 70 startups so far and we expect to reach 100 ”. A challenge for Exor. Who has already faced others.

“You have made great efforts to bring your company into the 21st century. What is the key to facing these challenges? ”, Molinari asks Elkann, who replies:“ When you lead a company, you change based on what you encounter. Changes happen. Today they are more radical. But every moment of crisis and difficulty always turns out to be an opportunity to grow and mature. We must have an eye on the future. Looking at the challenges that the future poses to us ”. Because innovation comes. And Italy today seems much more prepared to welcome it.

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“A new generation of entrepreneurs is now able to combine two prerogatives that Italy has always had, but which until now was not always able to travel together: entrepreneurial ability and technical skill. Successful companies are emerging from their convergence. And they begin to attract capital ”, Elkann reasons. “Italy is a fantastic place for innovation,” echoes Collison. “Intel achieved worldwide success thanks to the invention of the microprocessor, made by an Italian. Today you have companies like Scalapay and Satispay capable of becoming unicorns. Returning to being a place of innovation is a natural evolution ”.

Italy and Europe as a land of opportunity

Italy and Europe as an opportunity. A place where history and future meet. Elkann: “As a group we had the opportunity to open up to the world. But we keep our roots. Opening up to the world has allowed us to grow without detaching them. Indeed, our strong roots have allowed us to grow outside. The United States has become a very successful market for us, and for us it is a great pride ”.

Collison also found success in the US. Indeed, he built it there. In Silicon Valley, where he founded Stripe. “But today Europe is a place where there is talent and capital is also arriving. Silicon Valley should no longer be envied. Things happen, they have already happened. Countries like Ireland 20 years ago were poor, then with the right policies things changed ”, recalls the entrepreneur.

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Europe got in the running. It is already a land of opportunity for the new digital economy scene. It has strong nations, entrepreneurial ability and universities of excellence. “Five of the ten most important universities in the world are in Europe,” Elkann recalled. “Today we hear more and more of the recession. How to deal with it? ”, Molinari asks at the end.

For Collison, the crisis is the effect of the increase in energy prices: “So far we have changed our habits, but innovation is able to find answers in the medium and long term and find solutions to make the power”. Elkann concludes: “It is certainly one of the difficulties we could face, but we could also have others. But the lesson of recent years is that we are able to work together and help people in difficulty ”.

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The last question is about the value of intellectual content for innovation because both are publishers: “Light is the only opportunity we have to understand what is happening – says Elkann – what is missing is precisely to understand what surrounds us and, for this, we dedicate resources to publishing “. Collison nods: “Ideas are important but we need groups to carry them out, as happened in Silicon Valley.” And before the final applause, Elkann reveals that in the audience there is the first Italian employee of Stripe, Alessandro Astone.

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